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Wellspring Health Access is Wyoming's only clinic to provide surgical abortions

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The state of Wyoming now has a clinic that provides surgical abortions, the only one in the state. Its opening was delayed for nearly a year after it was torched by an arsonist. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska reports.

KAMILA KUDELSKA, BYLINE: Julie Burkhart wanted to open Wellspring Health Access clinic because a year ago, there was only one place in Wyoming for people to get abortions. She says the arson caused fear and trauma to the staff.

JULIE BURKHART: We had to spend a lot of time talking about what this means, how people feel about an attack like this on the clinic where they're going to be working and providing care.

KUDELSKA: But Burkhart says none of the staff decided to quit. The state's only other abortion provider offers medication abortions only. So Wellspring is now the sole clinic in the state to provide surgical abortions.

BURKHART: People are calling us, messaging us. It's very clear people want to make appointments, and they want to come to our clinic for care.

KUDELSKA: Wyoming passed an abortion ban in March, but a judge put it on hold temporarily, pending a decision by state courts. The new clinic is located in Casper. Bruce Knell is the mayor.

BRUCE KNELL: We encourage all taxpaying entities to be able to have a place to operate - own and operate and flourish. And, you know, if the demand is there in our community and - you know, their bottom line is up to them.

KUDELSKA: But Knell is being criticized after he responded to an article about the clinic's opening, using his personal Facebook account, with an animation of a man dancing around a fire.

KNELL: I Googled hellfire, and that's what came up. This, in no way - in no way, no how - was ever meant to incite any violence or any further destruction of their clinic.

KUDELSKA: Wyoming Right to Life said they are devastated that the number of abortion providers here has doubled and declined further comment.

For NPR News, I'm Kamila Kudelska.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES HEATHER'S "THE CONSCIENCE LOOP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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