A Call To Courage | Lila Rose At The 2023 Live Action Life Awards Gala

A Call To Courage | Lila Rose At The 2023 Live Action Life Awards Gala


I am so honored to be in this room with you tonight, fighting for the human right to life. The three outstanding awardees that we got to hear from tonight, that we just honored with the Life Award, they come from radically different walks of life, from the studios of Hollywood to the state capital of Oklahoma to convents that dot our nation.

These are very different lives, different lived experiences, but they share a common passion: advocating for and saving the lives of our country’s precious children. 

And there are a lot of successful people in this room tonight. So many of you who have done great things, who have used your God-given talents to start a business, to found a school, to lead a family, to help save friends’ souls.

In all of our lives we have experienced successes. And of course, we have experienced failures. It does not take a great act of courage to try something new after a failure. When we fail, we have less to lose. But it’s when we have achieved success, when we are in the position of influence, then it is that we have everything to lose.

Then some devilish voice–some may call him Screwtape–may suggest to us that it’s time to stay quiet, to ensure that we keep that position of influence at any cost, “don’t do anything too controversial,” “don’t get canceled,” “just be everybody’s buddy,” “ride it out.” That’s the easy thing to do. And let me tell you, that’s what most members of our country’s elite do.

Too many leaders in culture, in politics and even in faith, are comfortable getting along and not rocking the boat too hard. It takes true courage, courage to put what is right above what is easy, above what is personally advantageous. But that, my friends, is what we are called to do in our lives. And it’s what I am personally challenging you to do tonight.

America is like a beautiful song. Our song has dynamics. The highs of our founding promise of every person being created equal with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our song also has tragic lows, the horror of American slavery. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott that denied the legality of black citizenship in our nation.

How embarrassing for our nation founded on the principle of universal rights, of equality, to so blatantly deny those rights to a group of people. That decision was finally corrected in 1868 with the ratification of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution. That was a time when our nation chose courage, when we did the hard things and where we lived up to our potential.

That courage is what we need today, in our families, in our communities, in our jobs, and in politics. Courage is everything. You made the courageous step just by being here tonight, and I thank you for that. Over 2,500 American children are killed every single day across this nation through abortion. This is death – murder at a magnitude hard to conceive.

In comparison, the bloodiest day of fighting in the Vietnam War on the American side was January 31st, 1968, when we lost 246 Americans in one day. Even worse, on June 6th, 1944, 2,501 American soldiers died. That was D-Day. Such great loss. Think of abortion in that context. Every single day in our nation, we lose that same amount of innocent children as we did American soldiers on D-Day. One of the bloodiest days of the worst conflict of the 20th century.

That fact should shock our conscience to the core. That is why we are here. That is why Live Action exists, and that is why you are invested in this fight with us. That is why courage is needed now more than ever.

Friends, in the limited time we have left together tonight I want to focus on three parts of this mission that, with your partnership, we can end abortion in America. 

The courage to act. The courage to lead. And finally, the courage to win. Acting with radical courage, will change the world and end abortion. As I speak, our path towards radical justice is being paved by the relentless work of Live Action and our allies, which is only possible with you, because of your dedicated partnership.

The first step of courage is to act. Live Action exists to equip pro-life action, and we successfully do that every day. Live Action began by producing hard-hitting undercover investigations of abortionists. In one, we uncovered Planned Parenthood aiding child sexual abuse. At the time, I even did these investigations myself, posing as a 13-year-old girl in a predatory, sexual, abusive relationship with a 31-year-old man.

I was told by Planned Parenthood workers, “I don’t care how old he is. I didn’t hear how old he is.” This is the same organization, mind you, that is literally writing our nation’s sex-ed curricula for schoolchildren across America. 

Another investigation that we published ten years ago was called Inhuman and focused on the abject barbarity of late term abortion.

Cesare Santangelo and his Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., were the subject of one of these undercover investigations. During that investigation, Dr. Santangelo admitted that any child accidentally born alive during abortions in his facility would not receive medical assistance to help them survive. When asked what would happen if the baby was born alive in his clinic, he said, “We would not help it.” We would not help it. He and his staff would let the newborn helpless infant die instead.

This neglect is illegal under the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act. We further confirm that Dr. Santangelo commits abortions by cutting the umbilical cord and waiting for the nearly full term child to die after slow and painful exsanguination in utero, a method that also drastically increases the chance that the child may be born alive and then killed, which is a federal crime.

These investigative videos have inspired thousands to act courageously. One was 25-year-old Lauren Handy, who, along with fellow activists after seeing Live Action footage of the Washington Surgi-Clinic, engaged in a nonviolent protest at the facility to draw attention to the laws being violated there and to stop nearly full-term children from being killed that were scheduled to die that day.

Nonviolent, direct action has played an essential role in enacting positive social change in the United States and across the globe. It is a unique power to peacefully challenge grave wrongs and bring tension to the surface. Look at what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, that “nonviolent direct action seeks to create a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

It seeks to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent direct action forced our country to reckon with and take steps to solve the terror of discrimination and segregation. That same passion and energy should be commended when it is used to save mothers and children from abortion. Instead, the Biden administration, through the Department of Justice, has decided to put that same Lauren Handy and her fellow activists in prison for their activism.

This is a terrifying attack on free speech and the right to protest that could have far-reaching ramifications. Lauren Handy and her legal team, the fantastic attorneys at the Thomas Moore Society–some are here with us this evening–attempted to share the complete, unedited footage of Live Action’s investigation with the jury. After all, this video did inspire Lauren’s activism, and the activists chose that facility specifically due to what the abortionist himself admitted on camera.

But the biased pro-abortion judge denied that request, calling our video “gossip from propagandists” and did not allow the jury to even see it. 

Why? Because the judge knew that if the jury heard the truth, they would not be able to ignore it. That is why Live Action’s investigations must continue. Without us sharing the truth, the Department of Justice ignores it.

The DOJ should be investigated, indicting and convicting the late term abortionist violating federal law, but it is instead persecuting and jailing peaceful activists who want life for these children. Live Action will continue our undercover work, and in fact, we are just getting started. There are millions of people who have been lied to, who have been told that abortion is no big deal, that horrors like late-term abortion are just a myth.

Our latest investigative report yet to be released exposes this lie and the whole country needs to see it, needs to hear it, and needs to be inspired to courageous action against it. While in prison–and she sits in prison now–Lauren Handy wrote this: “It’s not just sad when an unborn person is murdered. It is acutely devastating. Someone needs to feel and mourn deeply. Someone needs to love to the point of supposed uselessness. Someone needs to rescue.”

The activists: Eight people of all ages and different religious and no religious background. Protestants, atheists, Catholics, and Jews as young as 24 years old and as old as 74 years old. As we sit here now in this ballroom, these eight activists sit in a prison cell.

Herb Geraghty, Lauren Handy, Jonathan Darnel, Will Goodman. Heather Idoni, John Hinshaw. Jean Marshall. Joan Bell. Joan Bell, 74 years old, is the mother of seven children, six of whom were adopted with special needs. She and her husband, Chris Bell, run maternity homes in New York State. Joan Bell faces 11 years in federal prison and she may spend her last years in prison.

These activists are now in prison for their courage to act. Let’s spend a moment in silent prayer for these activists who are political prisoners of the Biden administration. 

We will pray and work to set them free. These unjust convictions are a profound stain on our national character, one that calls back to the worst injustices of our legal system.

The next pro-life president of the United States must commit to personally pardoning these activists. And our Supreme Court must overturn this illegitimate decision.

I am not here tonight asking you to put your bodies in between the deadly tools of the abortionists and the children that he seeks to kill, as these activists have done. We are not all called to that, but we are all called to choose courage in our daily lives, in what we choose to support and what we choose to speak.

We are all called to stand up in our own way for the innocent, in whatever way that you can, to choose the courage to act. The courage to act must be followed by the courage to lead. Now, we need to take a moment again to celebrate something historic. We have officially lived more than one year in a post-Roe America.

We must continue to celebrate this historic accomplishment and the many lives being saved because of it. We have lived under the tyranny of Roe for over five decades, and we are now seeing the fruit of its demise. 14 states have completely banned abortion, but it is crucial that this movement to protect innocent human life grows and works towards an even more audacious goal.

The goal of Live Action and the pro-life movement cannot be dented with the abortion industry and their sycophants in culture and politics. We are not looking for a grand European-style compromise. Or maybe some abortion is sometimes limited, but always available. That is unacceptable. A preborn child’s life–a preborn child’s life is precious, whether that child is six weeks old or six months old.

To permit the killing of one but to say that the other should be protected is not justice. That’s why Live Action’s New North Star in the wake of the overturn of Roe is equal protection for all. 

The 14th Amendment is one of the most profound principles in our Constitution. No state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Our 14th Amendment reversed the abomination that Dred Scott perpetuated. It ensured that black Americans and every other disfavored minority from then on could not be denied the equal protection of our laws. This right to life does not require a new constitutional amendment. Those protections exist in our Constitution at this very moment. Right now in America abortion is unconstitutional.

Abortion violates our nation’s highest law, and it is already illegal. And it must be treated like it. The 14th Amendment was enacted to safeguard the fundamental rights of all individuals, ensuring that they receive equal treatment. But when it comes to preborn children, we have failed to extend those protections. Representative Thaddeus Stevens, a passionate abolitionist who fought for the ending of slavery in 1866, called the 14th Amendment a “superstructure of perfect equality of every human being before the law, of impartial protection to everyone in whose breast God has placed an immortal soul.”

My friends, these children are citizens of the United States of America. They are children of God and our Constitution is meant to protect them. Protecting the rights of the preborn should not be a matter of politics or ideology. Live Action leads a coalition of over 30 groups and individuals calling for equal protection under the law for all. And we are proud to work with hundreds of state lawmakers across the nation to ensure those protections in state law.

It is about standing up for the voiceless and the defenseless, for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Our society is judged not by how we treat the strong, but by how we treat the weakest among us. And history will judge us harshly if we continue to deny equal protection to children in the womb. Live Action is leading to ensure that the 14th Amendment, a powerful tool for justice, is fully applied to protect these innocent lives.

The fight for equal protection is in long part because we’ve had abortion in this country on demand for over 50 years. 50 years of killing. That is crazy. It’s lunacy. And it is so hard not to become jaded, to murder on such a mass scale. One of the worst dictators of the the worst killers and dictators of the 20th century, Joseph Stalin, said that “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths are a statistic.”

For many in America, the thousands killed by abortion every day, the millions over the decades are nothing more than a statistic. If they even know the statistic–and most people don’t know it–or they deny the death toll of abortion. We cannot allow changes in life or the passage of time to dull the truth.

Every day, 2,500 of them, and nothing, no other issue, no shiny new but important cause, no passage of time can reduce the fierce energy that we must have towards protecting our children. We have seen the courage to act by the brave activists in prison. We have examined the courage to lead boldly towards equal protection for all. Now, finally, most pressingly, we must focus on the courage to win.

Having the courage to win means operating with a laser-like focus on what we can do with the limited time and resources that we have to make the greatest impact in defending human life. We do that through investigative reporting, through reaching millions, through media online, through outreach to schools and churches. But how we must do that and where we need your help today is through the window to the womb project.

Most of you are familiar with the groundbreaking project, Baby Olivia. Does anyone remember Baby Olivia? Olivia is the most realistic, medically accurate, and lifelike animation of human life in the womb ever created. This video has been viewed over 50 million times and is one of the most valuable resources in the world for educating on the facts of fetal development.

Baby Olivia was even added to the public school curriculum in North Dakota to ensure that the state’s children understand the humanity of the child in the womb. Every single grade, every single year, must see Baby Olivia. We expect multiple states to write Olivia into state law next year. 

The next step in the Baby Olivia project is a revolutionary application. Right on your phone, a remarkable development that offers us a window into the womb, utilizing cutting edge medical animations to reveal the all-inspiring journey of new life.

As we delve into the window to the womb, we are confronted with an undeniable truth: the humanity of the preborn. We see the tiny heart beating. We see the delicate fingers forming and the precious life growing day by day.

But what makes this project so remarkable is its power to bridge the gap between the scientific and the emotional. We can see in vivid detail the human being in its most miraculous and vulnerable form. Let’s take a look into the window to the womb.

[Video transcript] Can you guess what this is? Or this? No? How about this? These are Planned Parenthood’s illustrations of what prenatal human life looks like. This is how the abortion industry wants you to think about prenatal human life. That is why in 2021, we released a never before seen medically accurate look at human life in the womb, affectionately titled Baby Olivia. But the Baby Olivia video is just the beginning of our vision to create the most comprehensive and immersive educational resources of prenatal human life. As we speak, we’re in the process of creating a groundbreaking new fetal development app which depicts a life-like view inside of the womb for every day of development. Through the use of cutting edge visual imaging technology, we will draw back the curtain to the womb and show the world the beautiful reality of the beginning of human life. 

This app will show everyone a new, lifelike, medically accurate 3D image of their baby. Every single day of pregnancy, tracking her changes daily, and illustrating her humanity from day one. This has never been done, and this will change the world. There is no excuse for not knowing what is in the womb at every single moment of pregnancy. When we truly understand the humanity of the preborn, we cannot turn a blind eye to the undeniable fact that abortion ends a human life.

We cannot ignore the incredible potential, the dreams and the possibilities that are extinguished with every abortion. Live Action and your courageous partnership can make this courageous vision come to life. We are blessed at Live Action to interact with millions of people across the globe, changing hearts and minds with the content. And we receive comments like this one: “I used to be pro-choice. I am so glad to call myself pro-life. This video is so beautiful. This channel helps to open our eyes when it comes to this awful crime to end life when it begins.”

We get thousands of comments and messages like these in our latest survey of over 2000 of our followers, mostly young women. 43% said that Live Action content changed their mind on abortion, 43%. 27% said it changed the mind of someone that they know. 

Because of your partnership our culture is changing. I want to share a quick picture from the 2021 Life Awards gala. Two years ago. You can see here I’m pregnant. A lot has changed. It’s a different world in so many ways. And yeah, that little baby then is now nearly two years old. My little son, my youngest son. And along with his older brother and my amazing husband, Joe, who’s here tonight, my amazing husband.

They are truly the best parts of my day, every single day. And I’m thrilled to share with you that we are pregnant again. That’s it. That’s a gala thing. My husband and I are both one of eight, so we just kind of got to keep going. You know, every gala, it’s got to be a new one. And we’re very excited to have our newest addition to our family this spring. 

When we told our kids, our two boys, that they’re going to have a new little brother or sister, we got a great reaction from our oldest son. He’s almost four and he’s been around the big brother block once before, and he’s pulling for a little sister. But when I said to our youngest, our almost two-year-old, “Do you want a baby brother or a baby sister?” He looked me squarely in the eyes and he said, “No, I’m baby.” So he still has some big brother training to complete. 

Friends, I feel this fight deeply in my soul. Like I know many of you do as well. This battle can seem daunting, but together with the power of our savior, I am confident that we will achieve final victory. Saint Paul writes in Second Corinthians: “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. So that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Let’s not allow our weakness to stop us from choosing courage. We are all weak humans. Our problems, but especially the killing of abortion, cannot be solved by any one of us alone.

But together, and through faith in an all-loving, all-powerful God, justice will prevail. Remember, this is not merely a political or legal battle. It is a moral imperative, a duty we owe to the children who cannot speak for themselves. The American song is beautiful, but it relies on us. Sing out the guarantees of freedom loudly and proudly.

Demand them, fight for them, secure them. The road ahead may be challenging, but it is with courage, courage, that we will see through the darkness. The fate of millions of future children hangs in the balance. But by deciding to courageously continue your partnership with Live Action tonight, together we can save millions of lives. Choose courage. Stand with me today to write a new verse in our national song, one that changes our tune, where every child is loved and protected in law. 

Thank you.