A bomb squad was summoned to an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, yesterday after a man attempted to bring an improvised explosive device into the clinic, which has a history of violent attacks by anti-abortion activists.
The man, 20-year-old Moises Trevizo, was at the South Wind Women’s Center for a job interview when security searched his backpack, finding several knives and a bottle filled with gun powder and a fuse. The clinic was evacuated while police investigated, and the man was taken into police custody.
Trevizo was arrested and charged with one count of unlawful possession of an explosive, local television station KWCH reports.
The clinic is one of only three that provide abortions in the entire state Kansas. It reopened in 2013 in the same building where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions until he was shot and killed by an anti-abortion activist in 2009 while attending church.
The site has a long history of being targeted in violent attacks by anti-abortion extremists. It was famously bombed in 1986, and in 1993 Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms while leaving the clinic, though he survived that attack. Yesterday’s incident served as a stark reminder to staffers at the clinic, who have been forced to implement tight security measures due to the ongoing risk of violence.
“Today, our staff and local law enforcement handled a threat to the safety of our patients and staff promptly and effectively. The systems that we have in place to protect our patients and staff worked,” said Julie Burkhart, director of the clinic.
According to local news channel KFOR, abortion clinics have seen a surge in anti-abortion violence and harassment since the release of a series of deceptively-edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of fetal organs. Though the videos have been thoroughly debunked and repeated investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, anti-choice extremists have used the occasion to ramp up their attacks on abortion providers.
“Since the first heavily edited video was released on July 14th, we’ve seen a dramatic escalation in harassment, hate speech, stalking, threats, and criminal activity,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.
“Anti-abortion extremists have even offered rewards online for the murder of two individuals,” Saporta said, according to KFOR. “We are concerned about this escalation and have brought these threats and criminal activities to the attention of law enforcement.”
According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, in the past three decades anti-abortion activists have targeted providers with more than 6,400 acts of violence including bombings, arsons, death threats, kidnappings, assaults, and murders, as well as more than 175,000 acts of disruption including bomb threats and harassing phone calls. Based on these numbers, abortion providers in the U.S. are confronted with violence every 1.7 days and deal with other forms of harassment 16 times each day.