A Caring Pregnancy Center (ACPC), an anti-abortion organization in Pueblo, is moving ahead with an in-person gala planned for next month.

The decision to move forward as planned with an indoor gathering comes as many event organizers are opting for virtual events due to the concerns about large in-person gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Flavor of Pueblo was our community’s last big event before Covid interrupted our daily lives. ACPC is thrilled to be the first big event back in town,” the organization said in a news release. “While it will look different from our banquets from the past we are still so grateful for the opportunity to hold our event in person.”

The annual fundraising event, which the organization describes as an “elegant evening” that “raises vital support to sustain our work throughout the year” will be held Sept. 11 at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Anti-abortion pregnancy centers, which now vastly outnumber abortion clinics, are known to give biased and incorrect information about abortion in an effort to sway women’s pregnancy decisions.

In an email to the Colorado Times Recorder, ACPC Executive Director Tamra Axworthy wrote, “We will be following any and all recommendations put forth by our local health department, the Pueblo Convention Center as our venue, and the Governors Executive Orders.”

The Pueblo Convention Center is currently operating at 50 percent capacity, the equivalent of 100 people per room, to allow for more physical distancing, according to its website.

Axworthy said they are “capping attendance to maintain our distancing requirements” and that they’re expecting around 300 attendees. Last year, the event drew 900, she said. She did not provide any additional details regarding COVID-19 safety measures.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Care Net, a massive network of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers with affiliates all over the country, is moving ahead with a 1,300 person conference. The event has drawn criticism from health experts who say hosting such an event, which could facilitate the spread of COVID-19, isn’t consistent with the organization’s pro-life message.

“I would be participating in some way if that weren’t the same week as our event here in Pueblo,” Axworthy said of the conference.

Asked whether she feels the same criticism could apply to her event, she said it’s up to individuals to calculate their risk, and underscored that ACPC’s banquet has a virtual option available:

“I feel that as long as [Care Net] is following the state/county/city variances, recommendations, and safety measures then I’m ok with it. The health experts in Florida are the ones creating those recommendations after all. The [pregnancy resource center] representatives attending the conference have to take personal responsibility and measure their own level of risk. The same holds true to our event. We surveyed our previous attendees to gauge their level of comfort before we began planning our event. This is why we have included a live stream option to our attendees who want to participate but aren’t comfortable being there in person. We want to be as inclusive as possible while maintaining everyone’s safety. I’m sure CareNet has the same goal in mind.” 

Florida surpassed New York as the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases late last month. Gov. Ron DeSantis has been widely criticized for his reluctance to impose measures that would stifle outbreaks.

Axworthy seemed to dismiss COVID-19 concerns in a Facebook post earlier this month:

“While watching the ad for the Zantac class action law suit I got to wondering, how many people die because of medical errors each year? Well, according to some studies it’s close to 440k. Abortions kill over 860k each year. So, shouldn’t that really mean doctors kill 1.3million people each year in the US. And we’re still worried about Covid?”

The featured speaker at this year’s event is anti-abortion activist Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation.

Bomberger and his foundation are best known for promoting the idea that abortion constitutes Black genocide. Bomberger is a harsh critic of Planned Parenthood and the NAACP, which he refers to as “The National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.”