Masked, hooded woman seen on video burning down what would have been Wyoming’s only abortion clinic

Cheyanne, Wyo. – A masked woman in a hooded shirt torched a planned abortion clinic in Wyoming, according to the newly released police video, and federal authorities have offered a $5,000 reward for tips that led to her arrest.

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered the bounty on Wednesday. The woman was shown in a security video released by Casper Police who was taken inside the Wellspring Health Access clinic in Casper shortly before she was burned on May 25.

The 30-second video shows a person in a hooded shirt and mask carrying what appears to be a red fuel canister across a room. The white woman is about 150cm tall, average height and apparently acted alone, police said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Early in the morning of the fire, firefighters arrived to find a broken window and smoke rising from a corner of the building. A person who called police said they heard glass breaking and saw a person leaving the area carrying a gas can and a black bag, according to police.

Investigators said they found several areas of the building where the accelerator was used.

The fire was quickly extinguished, Casper police said, adding that she was in the building for about 15 minutes.

The clinic was scheduled to open in mid-June as the only such facility in the state. The fire damaged a building that was being renovated and delayed the clinic’s opening by about six months, organizers said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Despite these setbacks, we have not been discouraged in our mission to give the people of Casper access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care,” the clinic’s founder, Julie Burkhart, said in the statement.

The clinic building had been the scene of regular protests against abortion.

Because of the fire, the clinic may not be able to provide abortions ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could overturn Roe vs Wade. Wyoming is among 13 states that would ban all or almost all abortions if the court overturns the 1973 case that made abortion legal nationwide.

A leaked draft Supreme Court ruling in May would overturn the historic case.

Under a bill signed in March by Governor Mark Gordon, a Republican, Wyoming would ban most abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Exceptions include cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother from death or serious medical harm that does not involve mental health.

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