Pro-life leaders in Dallas, Texas are urging volunteers to be cautious after a bomb squad was called in to examine a suspicious package near a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil on Friday.
WFAA News 8 reports the Dallas Police Department later determined that the suspicious package was a hoax, quite possibly meant to scare pro-life advocates who peacefully pray outside a nearby abortion clinic.
Becky Visosky, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee in Dallas, told LifeNews that there have been several hostile incidents recently during the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, an abortion facility in Dallas.
The most recent incident appears to have been an attempt to intimidate pro-lifers who pray outside the abortion clinic 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Though no one can be 100-percent sure of the intent of the suspicious package, Visosky said it did not look like litter that someone just left on the sidewalk. She said the object was “clearly crafted” to look suspicious.
“You could tell some time was spent to craft the item,” Visosky said.
On Friday morning, the pro-life group said volunteers who were praying noticed the suspicious package and called 911.
The Dallas Police Department responded and evacuated the area while a bomb squad examined the package.
Police later said the device was not an explosive or chemical but a “hoax” bomb intended to “incite fear.”
The pro-lifers who were praying on Thursday night called Pro-Life Dallas with the new information when they saw breaking news reports about the package, she said.
Pro-Life Dallas said the suspicious package was the second target this week against pro-lifers’ peaceful, prayerful work. On Oct. 11, the group said a man also vandalized the site and left behind a beheaded doll with the word “pro-choice” written on it. The group said the man also threw red paint on the site where they pray.
There also was another incident several weeks ago when an angry individual approached pro-lifers as they were praying, Visosky said.
The Dallas group and 40 Days for Life as a whole urge volunteers to be peaceful and prayerful witnesses outside abortion clinics.
With the rise in hostility toward pro-lifers, they also strongly encourage volunteers to be cautious and aware of their surroundings. Visosky said she tells volunteers to pray in their vehicles if they do not feel safe outside, and not to be there alone.
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“Safety is our primary concern,” she said. She tells volunteers, “Always be aware of your surroundings, and call the police if they suspect [a threat.]”
After the Friday incident, Pro-Life Dallas also told volunteers to be cautious when praying and sidewalk counseling.
“We are strongly advising caution to everyone who is participating in the vigil. If you witness any suspicious activity or packages, please immediately contact the authorities,” the pro-life group said.
Pro-lifers increasingly have become targets of vandalism, threats and harassment.
In two separate incidents this year, two men allegedly threatened to kill pro-life advocates outside abortion facilities in California and Florida. And in early February, violent threats against a California pro-life leader prompted him to cancel a pro-life rally, LifeNews reported.
Earlier this week, Students for Life reported several of their college pro-life clubs had displays vandalized by pro-abortion students.
In March, a pro-life student display at the University of Colorado at Boulder was vandalized, and another one was vandalized in April at Texas State University. In 2016, pro-abortion feminists vandalized a student pro-life display at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, LifeNews reported. The university’s student Democrats club later praised the feminists’ actions.
And in June, someone stole a pro-life trailer from Arkansas Right to Life that displayed how many unborn babies die in abortions each year.