Anti-abortion organization hosts ‘Let There Be Life’ conference at UC Berkeley

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Isabella Sabri/Staff

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Fifteen speakers and activists gave presentations at a conference hosted by Pro-Life San Francisco on Saturday at UC Berkeley, speaking about unifying the anti-abortion movement and how to persuade others to join it.

The conference — entitled “Let There Be Life” — was held in Dwinelle Haland featured a series of lectures, ranging from “Building a Pro-Life California” to “Deconstructing Three Pro-Choice Myths.” More than 70 community members attended the event, which began at 8 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

Anti-abortion groups such as Rehumanize International and Embrace Grace sponsored the event, setting up tables outside Dwinelle, where a trio of protestors stood with posters while attendees were entering the conference.

The three protesters were campus sophomore Claire Sonne, campus senior Hilary Adkins and campus sophomore Aubrey Milham. The trio recently started a women’s advocacy campus organization called Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and they stood silently holding signs unless interacted with by conference-goers.

“We heard about the anti-abortion conference going on here at Dwinelle, so we came to exercise our freedom of speech,” Sonne said. “We’re peacefully protesting with some signs about a women’s ability to choose what happens to her body.”

Terrisa Bukovinac, an atheist anti-abortion activist and executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, and Karen Rose, president of Pro-Life San Francisco, began the conference with a presentation on how to promote understanding between those who are anti-abortion and those who support abortion rights.

“Pro-life people vote for Republicans, but this needs to be a bipartisan effort. We need to welcome people with different views,” Rose said during the presentation. “These people might be excluded. We need there to be support for them.”

At the mention of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and U.S. District Judge William Orrick during Bukovinac and Rose’s presentation, the audience booed loudly. Applause erupted when Bukovinac cited a statistic during the presentation, claiming that abortion is on the decline in the United States.

“I tell pro-life people to be more like Jesus and less weird,” said Josh Brahm, president of Equal Rights Institute, in a lecture advising attendees how to persuasively argue with abortion-rights activists. “Sometimes people can be well-meaning but off-putting. We don’t want to be off-putting.”

Liz Scannura, an attendee at the event, said that though she has always felt that she was anti-abortion, her stance was a difficult subject to talk about and that she came to the event for “education purposes.”

“I definitely think if you’re not a real assertive person — which I try to be, but I would say I’m probably not — it can be a real challenge being in a community like this, which is so pro-choice,” Scannura said. “Going to seminars and things like this can be really valuable.”

Contact Sabrina Dong and Sri Medicherla at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article misattributed the quote “Pro-life people vote for Republicans, but this needs to be a bipartisan effort. We need to welcome people with different views. … These people might be excluded. We need there to be support for them” to Terrisa Bukovinac. In fact, it was said by Karen Rose.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Karen Rose cited a statistic that abortion is declining in the United States. In fact, Terrisa Bukovinac cited the statistic.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the conference hosted 14 speakers. In fact, there were 15.