HUBERTUS — Lila Rose is young. She’s bold, and she’s committed to building a culture of life and putting an end to the 1.2 million abortions that are done annually in the United States. A 22-year-old history graduate from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), she’s also founder and president of Live Action: a New Media Movement for Life. Her efforts consist of undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country in order to expose their pressure-filled approach to abortion. Seemingly giant obstacles, like a billion-dollar, tax-funded industry, with 800 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, don’t faze Rose.
A recent convert to Catholicism, Rose was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual St. John Bosco Youth Day, which attracted approximately 1,400 high school and middle school youth, on the grounds of the Basilica at Holy Hill, Oct. 2. Youth represented the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as well as La Crosse, Madison, Green Bay, Chicago and Iowa.
Live Action builds culture of life
Rose grew up in a Protestant homeschooling family of eight children. Encouraged to pursue her dreams and be a leader, in high school, she founded Live Action, a 501(c)(3) corporation that uses media to build a culture of life and expose the truth about the abortion industry.
For four years, Rose and the Live Action team have made undercover visits to Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, including those in Milwaukee and Appleton. The typical scene: posing as an underage girl pregnant by an older man, implying abuse, Rose is loaded with hidden recording devices and a video camera to record what happens and then exposes the evidence via the media.
It all began for Rose when she was 9 years old and stumbled upon a picture of an aborted baby. Shocked and frightened, she remembered that image for years to come. When she went from her homeschooling experience to UCLA with 40,000 students, she went confidently with one major intention: “I went to UCLA to do pro-life work.”
‘No virtue in abortion clinic’
Rose suspected that if Planned Parenthood was committing abortions, they were likely to be committing other injustices, too.
So Rose told the audience, “Are we going to find virtue in an abortion clinic? Are we going to find love in an abortion clinic? No, we are going to find abuse after abuse, and the abuse goes beyond the killing of that unborn child and it extends to abusing, manipulating, lying to, even physically harming the mother, extends to mistreating the mother, mistreating the other people who come into that clinic besides that unborn child.”
Live Action documented the abuse. Like teachers and other health professionals, Planned Parenthood is required by state law to report sexual abuse, rape and incest immediately. Ninety-one percent of clinics surveyed by an undercover actor, posing as a 13-year-old, and calling by phone, told the girl, “We don’t care how old he is. We have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about sexual abuse.”
To the young audience at Bosco Day, Rose recounted her first undercover visit at age 18. Rose entered the abortion clinic, located in an upscale area of Santa Monica, Calif., above a coffee shop. Her heart pounding, dressed in an old T-shirt, no heels, posing as a 15-year-old, she walked in and requested to speak with someone.
Abortion destroys two lives
As Rose watched the women waiting for their abortion appointments, it dawned on her, “I wasn’t just looking at one life, but that I was looking at two lives. And in that clinic on that day one of those lives would be killed, destroyed by abortion, wouldn’t make it out of there.”
She told the counselor that she was pregnant by a 24-year-old man, implying sexual abuse. The counselor replied, “Just figure out a birth date that works. We’ll get you that secret abortion.”
Repeatedly, Rose heard the same shocking and law-breaking responses from Planned Parenthood staff and counselors. They instructed her to lie on the papers about her boyfriend’s age, and get a signature from anyone with the same last name, promising her, “We’ll get you that abortion.”
Rose was devastated to find out that after an abortion, Planned Parenthood, in effect, sent young girls who are victims of sexual abuse back into their abusers’ arms.
In addition to abuse, Live Action has captured Planned Parenthood nurses and counselors across the country telling women misinformation and lies about pregnancy and the development of a child in utero. Rose said they pressure women to make a decision quickly before it’s “harder” and more expensive.
Workers overlooked sexual abuse
In a video recorded at an abortion clinic in Milwaukee, Planned Parenthood nurses lied to Rose (posed as a 6-8 week pregnant girl), about when the baby’s heart begins to beat. The staff person said heart tones begin at 18 weeks or so and that, “There’s not a baby at this point. There’s no legs, no arms, no head, no brain, no heart. At this point it’s just the embryo itself.”
The truth, Live Action points out, is that the heart is beating at three and a half weeks, or 21 days, and these body parts are developing and visible in an ultrasound. While Planned Parenthood markets itself as giving women information and facts, Rose said it tells “Satanic lies” against basic scientific knowledge.
Seeing the fabrications and bloodshed around her, Rose said, “We cannot build the culture of life as (Pope John Paul II) has called us to do, as our faith tells us to do … if we live, if we tolerate abortion.” With one out of every three women touched by an abortion, Rose said, “This touches all of us; this goes to the heart of the family issue.”
Rose said, “Out of all the political issues, all the social issues, all the issues that our faith might address, is there a greater destroyer of innocent human life, a greater amount of bloodshed in the world today, in our nation today, than in the killing of innocent unborn children? I will switch issues, and address another problem, another matter if someone can point to me a greater human rights issue, a greater injustice.”
During her speech, Rose shared the investigations that Live Action discovered through undercover visits to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country. Live Action video investigations can be seen online at www.liveaction.org.
Pro life effort one of truth, grace
To the youth of her generation, burdened by the consequences of growing up in a culture of death, Rose reached out.
“It doesn’t stop there, because we believe in a God who is all-powerful and all-loving and all-merciful, and he wants to use us as his hands and feet to be warriors in this battle for life,” she said.
The pro life effort, she said, is not one of “condemnation and hopelessness, but instead it’s one of truth and then grace. If we can confront the truth about this human rights abuse and about all the causes of it and all the sins around it, we can receive the grace that we so desperately need.”
Embrace call of God
Rose urged the youth to be examples of purity and holiness, embracing the call of God for their lives.
“All of you here survived abortion. You’re alive! God provided that; he blessed your life for a reason … and part of that is building the culture of life,” Rose said. She advocated prayer and chastity and the understanding that sexuality is a gift from God meant for marriage.
Encouraging those who pray and sidewalk counsel outside of abortion clinics, Rose said, “Your very presence on the sidewalk is a sign from God to women going in that there is another way.” Many women driving to abortion clinics say they are “praying for a reason not to have an abortion and looking for a sign.”
When she feels weak and uncertain, Rose prays and begs God to use her.
“God is willing to use even very weak and small people like me,” she said.
Her faith in God and in her own generation is one of the reasons Rose has hope.
“I believe with my whole heart that we will see a day in America without abortion,” she said. “And that we will be the ones to do it.”
St. John Bosco Youth Day featured Fr. Stan Fortuna, rap singer/songwriter from the Bronx, N.Y., and musician Martin Doman from Ave Maria University. The day included games, skits, video presentations, talks, praise and worship, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration and Mass celebrated by Fr. Fortuna.