Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

Clinic sees appointment increase

CASPER — The Women’s Health Center & Family Care Clinic of Jackson — the only clinic in Wyoming that provides abortion services — is feeling the regional impacts of abortion bans following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade on Friday.

Giovannina Anthony, the doctor who set up the clinic’s abortion services and has been providing medication abortions there for 17 years, said in a Monday text to the Star-Tribune that the clinic was “being flooded” with abortion requests from Utah.

“This has never ever happened before,” she said.

Utah enacted its trigger abortion ban late Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision on Roe v. Wade that overturned the constitutional right to abortion access. The state’s ban is similar to Wyoming’s trigger law, but it includes additional exemptions for aborting fetuses with certain defects. (Wyoming’s trigger ban only has exemptions for rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger).

On Monday, four Utahns booked appointments to get abortions at the Jackson clinic, a clinic representative told the Star-Tribune.

She said the clinic typically sees very few patients from the neighboring state. That’s somewhat of a reversal of roles; the Jackson clinic rarely refers abortion patients to other clinics, but when it does, it usually sends patients to Utah.

Katrina Barker, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah Communications and Marketing Director, said about 1% of abortion patients served at Planned Parenthood clinics in Utah are from Wyoming.

Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit against the state’s trigger abortion ban on Saturday, arguing that the law violates Utahns’ rights under the state’s constitution.

On Monday, a Utah judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the trigger law. The order will last two weeks.

Abortion services in Utah resumed on Monday following the order, according to Barker.

The block on Utah’s trigger bill could extend longer than two weeks if the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is granted a preliminary injunction, which would block the abortion ban from going into effect for the duration of the lawsuit. Barker said the association will ask for a preliminary injunction during its hearing on July 11.

The Women’s Health Center & Family Care Clinic in Jackson hasn’t gotten any more abortion appointment requests from Utahns since Monday, according to the clinic representative.

Western Wyoming’s other neighboring state, Idaho, is also poised to ban abortion.

But its trigger law isn’t in effect yet, so abortions there are still legal.

A Planned Parenthood affiliate is also contesting that state’s trigger ban in a lawsuit. But there aren’t many abortion services in Idaho anyway.

The clinic in Jackson actually serves quite a few patients from eastern Idaho, Anthony and Katie Noyes, the other doctor at the clinic who provides abortions, said.

Several other states, including Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky, are facing lawsuits over abortion access following Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

There isn’t a lawsuit in Wyoming over abortion access right now. But there could be one in the future.

Julie Burkhart, the Wellspring Health Access founder who planned to open an abortion clinic in Casper, said in a press conference on Friday that she’s looking into a potential lawsuit over the state’s trigger abortion ban.

People in western Wyoming — those whom the Jackson clinic primarily serves — will be the farthest away from abortion services once the state’s trigger ban goes into effect, and if abortions in Utah and Idaho also become illegal.

The closest clinics would be in Montana and Colorado. Wyoming’s trigger abortion law hasn’t taken effect yet.

Anthony and Noyes said they will continue to provide abortions at the clinic as long as it’s legal.

This story was posted on June 29, 2022.