Unapologetic: The Left-Wing Pro-Lifer

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Why you should care

Because even if people don’t believe it, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. 

Terrisa Bukovinac is used to not fitting in. Growing up in Adrian, Michigan, she and her family belonged to what she refers to as a cult. No celebrating Christmas, no birthdays either; she was used to being excluded from the mainstream. Looking around in her apartment in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, you’ll find the juxtapositions of her experiences. Sheet music of hymns from her grandmother, a large Marilyn Monroe poster, a book by Nietzsche and a bullhorn that she uses when she protests. At her pro-life events. 

Today, Bukovinac seems like the typical 30-something San Franciscan. She’s a Democrat, a feminist, a vegan and loves to go to karaoke with friends and drink at Dolores Park. She also happens to be the president and founder of Pro-Life San Francisco, an inclusive group of millennial pro-lifers fighting against the “abortion industry in its own metaphorical backyard.”

Incongruent though it may seem, Bukovinac is living in what she says some pro-lifers consider the “golden era of the pro-life movement.” From Alabama to Indiana, states are passing restrictive laws around abortion access. Planned Parenthood has recently announced its leave from the Title X family planning program to forgo compliance with the Trump administration’s guidelines around abortion counseling. But Bukovinac doesn’t see the president as someone to admire. 

Her feelings shifted about abortion too. When Donald Trump was elected, Bukovinac solidified her stance and felt the need to do something.

“I don’t think Donald Trump is actually pro-life, but he’s a politician,” she says. “And he’s pandering to the constituency that’s been ignored for a very long time. And they’re very excited about that. … Donald Trump is not going to open anyone’s mind to any type of morality.”

Bukovinac’s journey to founding Pro-Life San Francisco started after she found veganism, and she began changing the way she thought about life and morality. Losing her religion came over time. Soon she was “uncompelled” by Christian-based reasoning on everything from the “nature of evil … and the nature of right and wrong.” 

Her feelings shifted about abortion too. When Donald Trump was elected, Bukovinac solidified her stance and felt the need to do something. 

 

“I thought, there’s no way that Donald Trump is going to give a voice for the unborn in San Francisco,” she explains. “And I realized that I was going to have to be that voice in my community because there was no one else … that was willing to go out and do the types of activism that animal rights activists are willing to do in order to give a voice to their cause. And so I decided to start a group, and that’s what I did.”

Bukovinac identifies her group as a “millennial-led, grassroots, activist pro-life organization” that works to provide pregnant people with resources, “resist the influence of the abortion industry” and educate legislators, community members and student groups.

The group would like to see elective abortion be illegal in the United States, and to change the broader cultural and societal perception on abortion. 

But Bukovinac also says that she doesn’t “think that pregnant people who seek out abortions in our culture are victims … and they don’t need to be treated like criminals simply because they’re seeking out a way to mitigate that oppression.”

Though Bukovinac doesn’t fit in in San Francisco and her views often leave her feeling isolated and sometimes even doubtful, she continues the mission with her small team.

And if there are any naysayers who don’t think her stance is real? She doesn’t mind.

“People do think I’m like secretly religious sometimes, or that, you know, I really am a Republican but just saying that I’m a Democrat,” she says. “But all I can do is just keep being who I am. I mean, this is really me. So feel free to follow me around with a camera 24/7, and then you’ll know for sure.”

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