Pro-Life Heroes and Heroines no. 5: Lila Rose
by Oxford Students for Life
In the past ten years, few pro-life activists have attracted as much attention, both overwhelmingly positive and viciously negative, as has 25-year-old pro-life campaigner Lila Rose. The founder of Live Action, a nonprofit media organization that seeks to fight abortion through education and investigation, Lila Rose has become one of the most famous faces in the pro-life movement, and set a bold example for pro-life advocates around the world.
Lila’s work in the fight for life began as so many great things do – out of curiosity. In an article for First Things, Lila recalls exploring her parents’ library as a child when she opened a book on abortion and was horrified and profoundly moved by what she saw. In her early teens, she began a pro-life club; Live Action, now a national enterprise, began in 2004 in Lila’s family living room.
When she was a freshman at UCLA, Lila’s work first came to national attention. Lila and her friend James O’Keefe inquired into the university’s support services for pregnant students, and were told that pregnant students were not supported but rather referred to abortion clinics. The two then turned their efforts to exposing and undermining Planned Parenthood, the dominant abortion provider in the United States. Posing as a fifteen-year-old victim of statutory rape, Lila went to an abortion clinic where she was encouraged to lie about her age to cover up the crime perpetrated against her. Her taped conversations with Planned Parenthood employees went viral. Since then, Lila and Live Action have conducted undercover investigations in clinics throughout the United States, exposing discrimination, lies, and prostitution and child abuse cover-ups. Lila has made numerous appearances on national television, defending herself against critics, debating high-profile workers in the abortion industry, and arguing passionately for human life and dignity. Unsurprisingly, Lila was on the National Journal’s 2013 list of the 25 Most Influential Washington Women under 35; Lila is internationally renowned for her bold and brave advocacy, and has become one of the most prolific pro-life campaigners in the world.
However, pro-choice and pro-life advocates alike have criticized Lila for aspects of her approach to the fight against abortion. Live Action’s undercover operations, while effective, are clearly dishonest; we have to ask, is it permissible to lie for the sake of the greater good? Philosopher Christopher Tollefsen, among others, has argued that the pro-life cause must not operate on the same means-ends tactics often used to justify abortion in the first place. Pro-life advocates must defend and share the truth through loving and honest means, not through manipulation.
It’s undeniable, however, that while Live Action’s tactics are questionable, the fruits of its work are not. In 2013, a record 87 abortion clinics closed down in the United States; the pro-life movement is gaining ground, and Live Action is one of the dominant groups at the forefront. At just 25, Lila Rose has already made a tremendous difference in the fight for life – we can only wait to see what more she will do in the future!