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Opposing reproductive health centers prepare differently for abortion bans

trigger laws
Posted at 12:08 PM, Jul 22, 2022

CASPER, Wyo. — The small western city of Casper, known for its cowboy culture and history as a stop along the Oregon trail, has a new spotlight cast on it.

It's being viewed now as a microcosm of the differing perspectives on reproductive health and choice, views that, for many, clash in a post-Roe America.

"On May 25th, the clinic was firebombed. Someone broke into the clinic at about 3:30 in the morning and set fire to the clinic," said Julie Burkhardt, founder of Wellsprings Health Services.

What Julie Burkhardt had been working to build represents one side of the fight. Her organization built this clinic, the first in conservative Wyoming, offering surgical abortions. A week before it was set to open earlier this year, it was set on fire.

"We're determined because we made a commitment to come into Wyoming and to provide reproductive health care services," she said.

Burkhardt is working on rebuilding, but there's a bigger hurdle standing in her way. Wyoming is one of 13 states with trigger bans, laws that ban abortion that were set to go into effect as soon as Roe was overturned.

However, at the moment, eight states have banned abortion, bans in five states are temporarily blocked by courts, and bans in Wyoming, Idaho, Tennessee and North Dakota, are pending legal reviews that could be finished any day.

"We're looking at potential litigation if that is certified but we're waiting to, to see what the state of Wyoming is going to do," she said.

As Burkhardt waits for Wyoming's to go into effect, she's worried about the resources available to those carrying a pregnancy to term.

"I don't feel that there are the resources and the mechanisms and those safety nets in place to help people," she said.

Across town is TrueCare Women's Resource Center, a faith-based medical clinic offering free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and connection to financial and other resources for those who choose to carry a pregnancy to term, is running off community donations. This is the other side.

Once the news dropped about Roe, executive director Jessica Baxter said they began thinking about a potential increase in clients.

"We had been preparing for that decision for a while and having the discussions. 'What will it look like? Will we be expecting more women to come through our doors? What will that mean for our staffing? What does that mean for our budget?'" she said.

Since the overturning of Roe, pregnancy care centers like TrueCare have also been in the spotlight, receiving scrutiny from pro-choice advocates, arguing their primary mission is to discourage abortions.

"I really believe that the greatest misconception about us is that somehow we're trying to coerce a woman into a decision. It's not what we do. It's not our goal," she said.

She says their mission is to educate about all options in an unwanted pregnancy and hopes that with the news about Roe comes a greater interest in the type of services they offer. She believes their network of resources and talking about options beyond abortions will be able to help more pregnant people.

"Our desire as an organization is that people would know that we care for the woman, her family, her, her significant other, and the baby that she's carrying. They're, they're all important to us, and so, we want to give her that information, that those options, that choice for herself," she said.

Two sides with different perspectives -- part of a discussion that will continue in this country.