WASHINGTON — A pro-life activist has launched a new organization seeking to “reclaim progressivism for life” as the abortion movement continues to hold immense power and influence in the Democratic Party and the progressive movement.
Terrisa Bukovinac, the former president of Democrats for Life of America who also serves as founder and president of Pro-Life San Francisco, launched the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, also known by its acronym PAAU, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Friday night. The event took place the evening before pro-abortion protesters descended on the District of Columbia and cities across the country for the far-Left Women’s March.
Bukovinac addressed a crowd of dozens of pro-life activists, most of whom identified as Democrats and progressives, though conservative pro-lifers were also at the event. She made the case that contrary to what abortion activists claim, the pro-life position aligns with other priorities that progressives hold near and dear to their hearts.
“To be progressive, you must stand with the oppressed, never the oppressor. To be progressive, you must be in solidarity with low-income people and trust that they know their own needs. And to be progressive, you must stick up for the marginalized. But the abortion industrial complex twists all of that on its head,” she said.
“They’ll tell you that to be progressive, you must advocate for mass acts of violence against children in the womb who are utterly incapable of defending themselves,” Bukovinac added. “They’ll tell you that to be progressive, you must ignore the voices of low-income people who are more anti-abortion than the wealthy by huge margins. If it were up to those who make less than $40,000 a year, Roe v. Wade would be in the ash heap of history.
“In this twisted version of progressivism, it’s the rich who know best,” she continued. “And they’ll tell you that to be progressive, you cannot, under any circumstances, advocate for the most … marginalized among us.”
Bukovinac also accused corporate America of engaging in pro-abortion activism in an effort to advance their economic self-interests.
“When I see giant corporations signing onto pro-choice letters, I have to wonder, what are their parental leave policies really like? How much are they counting on abortion to save them a buck and pad their bottom line?” she asked.
“Abortion is not progress,” she asserted. “Abortion is a regress to the pseudo-morality of might makes right and as progressives, we will not stand for it.”
“We are reclaiming progressivism for life,” Bukovinac declared.
The launch of PAAU followed by the Women’s March on Saturday come as the implementation of a pro-life law in Texas that bans abortions after a baby's heartbeat can be detected is spurring outrage in progressive circles. The Supreme Court declined the request of abortion providers to block the law, which has now been in effect for over a month.
The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1. In this case, the court will rule on the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
A ruling in favor of the state of Mississippi, which is seeking to uphold the ban, would significantly weaken the precedent set by the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade and affirmed by the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A decision is expected sometime next year, most likely by the end of June 2022.
In the aforementioned cases, the court determined that states cannot prohibit abortions before the point of viability, where the unborn baby can survive outside the womb. Courts at all levels have frequently used those Supreme Court decisions when justifying the invalidation of states' pro-life laws regulating abortions or implementing health and safety standards at abortion clinics.
CP interviewed some of the PAAU launch attendees to ask why they felt called to attend the rally and to share their views on the pro-life movement in the U.S.
Michael New, a research associate at the Catholic University of America and a scholar at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, spoke at a Democrats for Life of America rally earlier this year that Bukovinac also attended. He went to the launch of PAAU to show solidarity with Bukovinac’s efforts.
“I think what she’s doing is very important. I think the pro-life movement needs to leave no stone unturned. I think that there are a lot of people out there who are politically liberal, who are pro-life, and I think her efforts to amplify and highlight … those voices is a great project and I’m happy to support her.”
Caroline Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a pro-life Democrat who works with the group Protect Life Michigan, told CP that “it’s important to show the world that being pro-life is not equal to and always just being conservative. I think it’s important to show that there’s a lot of diversity in the pro-life movement and we need to acknowledge that and be able to accept everybody who believes abortion is wrong.”
Characterizing abortion as “the most important issue of our day,” Smith reflected on the “crucial moment” the pro-life movement finds itself in: “I’m feeling excited but also … nervous because I know that there’s going to be a lot of work to be done. Whatever happens next, we’ve got to keep pushing and fighting for the unborn.”
Smith briefly spoke at the event, detailing how she “drove over 11 hours” to take advantage of the “opportunity to expand the pro-life movement” and “make some noise for the unborn.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, added: “I have, for a long time, stood side-by-side with people who are of different political persuasions, religious persuasions … and all kinds of philosophical persuasions to stand against the killing of babies because I’m convinced ... one criterion alone is needed to be pro-life and that is to be alive.”
Pavone, who traveled to the nation’s capital from Florida, shared his desire to “support any of the efforts in the pro-life movement to show … how diverse it is.” During his speech, Pavone slammed President Joe Biden as “the most pro-abortion president ever” and “a sign of the problem that PAAU is proudly standing against.” He also accused Democratic leaders of having “abandoned the people that they claim to represent on this issue.”
Braedon Eckert from Indiana, one of many young activists who spoke before the crowd, told CP it was important for him to attend the event as a self-described pro-life feminist and someone who believes in “the right to life from conception until natural death.”
Speaking about the state of the pro-life movement, Eckert contended that “the pro-life movement is ... almost like a cup of tea. It’s like brewing right now and we’re ready. ... We’re just waiting for that moment when we just know it’s time to take action. We are taking action.”
Eckert characterized the national Democratic Party’s overwhelming pro-abortion bent as an example of how members of the party “don’t even stand for their own Democratic views.” Maintaining that “every party does something to violate the right to life,” he contended that “both the Republican and the Democratic Party violate human beings in some way.”
“[For] the Republican Party, it’s the dehumanization of immigrants in ... some cases. [For] the Democratic Party, it’s abortion.”
Bukovinac also spoke with CP, elaborating on what motivated her to start the new organization and shared her thoughts about the state of the pro-life movement: “Pro-abortion Democrats control the presidency, the Senate and the House, and I felt like it’s the right time that we ... have lost every Democratic pro-life member of Congress and that we need real direct action in this movement on the Left to address this extremism.”
“We’re in a position of strength,” she added, expressing optimism about the pro-life movement. "We’ve known all along that the abortion industry was going to come after us once they felt truly threatened. I think that we’re seeing that happen. But what we’re seeing in the stats is that people are just as anti-abortion now as they were before the Texas law and that they will continue to be anti-abortion.”
“PAAU is coming for the Biden-Harris administration and those that enable that kind of discrimination,” she warned. “This discrimination is lethal for a million human children every year and we recognize that the issue is between the Democratic establishment and the abortion industry, and our intention is to break that relationship.”
The relationship between the Democratic establishment and the abortion industry, specifically abortion provider Planned Parenthood, was a major focus of Bukovinac’s remarks. She vowed that “Wherever you find fake progressivism bought with blood money, we will be there and we will be loud. It is time for a progressive anti-abortion uprising!”
“People matter more than profit!” Bukovinac exclaimed. “Human lives matter more than money. That is the heart of progressivism.”
Against the backdrop of the sun disappearing below the horizon, Bukovinac remarked that “the sun is setting on the American abortion industrial complex and the world is watching.” She assured the crowd that “PAAU is taking our message to every blue city in America, every Democratic leader in Congress and to the Biden-Harris administration and ultimately, to the Democratic National Convention.”
Randall Terry, founder of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, who also spoke at the event, had a few choice words for Planned Parenthood. After telling the crowd to “have a reaction that is equal to the crime,” he insisted that “you must set out to create social tension.”
Pointing to Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” as a source of inspiration, Terry recalled that he, himself, spent time in jail because he “created the social tension that helped give birth to a revitalized pro-life movement that helped bring about political change that helped give birth to crisis pregnancy centers.”
Lamenting that “we still have not prevailed,” he declared: “I do not want a place at the table with Planned Parenthood. I want to take their table and turn it into firewood.”
The firewood reference caused the crowd to erupt into applause. Terry doubled down on his remarks, restating his desire for “total, unequivocal victory.” He stressed that “if abortion really is murder, if it really is the destruction of an innocent human life, if someone was going to be killed standing right next to you, you wouldn’t say ‘Oh wow, can we dialogue about this?’”
Terry suggested that rather than engage in dialogue in such a scenario, it would make more sense to “scream bloody murder.”
Another speaker, Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life, cited the formation of PAAU as evidence that “we are coming together in solidarity to end legalized abortion.”
“We are coming together to make the Congress and the court stand for life,” she continued. “We are coming together to end a discriminatory, ageist, ableist, racist, sexist regime that tells us that for us to be equal in society, that we have to resort to legalized abortion, to killing our own children.”
Echoing Foster’s rhetoric about the pro-abortion narrative, Bukovinac emphasized that her organization was “about speaking truth to power, not destroying the powerless” and “about investing in families and children and not telling women and people who can become pregnant that they have to kill their babies to succeed in a cis-man’s world.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org