Though only in her mid-twenties, Lila Rose is already a seasoned antichoice activist. In 2006, while still a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, she started an antichoice publication, The Advocate, which she claims is distributed to more than 300 high schools and colleges and has a circulation of 200,000. It offers a bit of pop-culture commentary but mostly provides a vehicle for Rose’s antichoice message, along with vulgar images of aborted fetuses.
Rose is also the president of Live Action, which “works to expose abuses in the abortion industry and advocate for human rights for the pre-born.” According to the Live Action website, it does so by “using new media to educate and mobilize both local and national audiences.”1
Live Action’s work often focuses on Planned Parenthood and borrows a tactic made famous by the “journalist” James O’Keefe, who is best known for the video that undermined ACORN, formerly an antipoverty advocacy organization. He and another activist entered an ACORN office disguised as a pimp and a sex worker, claiming that he maintained a prostitution ring and needed housing.
One of Rose’s own “investigations” in 2011 involved actors who enter Planned Parenthood clinics, claiming to be part of an underage prostitution ring. The Live Action website notes that “an encounter with any worker providing confidential health care services should be an opportunity for trafficking victims to get help to escape form [sic] slavery, but in abortion clinics, ‘confidentiality’ becomes the secrecy needed for abuse to continue.” Live Action reported that “seven Planned Parenthood clinics in four different states were willing to aid and abet the sex-trafficking of minor girls by supplying confidential birth control, STD testing, and secret abortions.”2 Planned Parenthood disputed the authenticity of the videos. As the Atlantic noted, they were in any case dubious from both a moral and a legal perspective.3
Nonetheless, Rose remains an important force within the antichoice movement, and she controls her image carefully. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has helped spread her message nationally, and she appears regularly in the mainstream media. She also does the rounds at important right-wing events, including the annual Values Voter Summit.
As Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an antichoice activist with the Christian Defense Coalition, told the Los Angeles Times, Rose brings an element of youth and innovation to the antichoice movement. “There is this stereotype of who we pro-life leaders are,” Mahoney said, “and for the most part it would be white middle-aged religious men trying to impose their will on women … So now with Lila, you bring this young, fresh college student that completely blows any stereotypes away. No one is going to accuse Lila of being mean, vindictive and harsh.”4
- “Live Action President Lila Rose,” Live Action, http://www.liveaction.org/lilarose.
- “Exposing Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up of Child Sex Trafficking,” Live Action, http://www.liveaction.org/traffick.
- Chris Good, “What Makes the Planned Parenthood Videos Different from the ACORN Videos,” Atlantic, Feb. 10, 2011, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/02/what-makes-the-planned-parenthood-videos-different-from-the-acorn-videos/71062/.
- Robin Abcarian, “Anti-abortion movement gets a new-media twist,” April 26, 2009, Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/2009/apr/26/nation/na-abortion26.