FACT CHECK: The New Republic’s attack on Lila Rose and the pro-life movement is riddled with falsehoods

The New Republic published an article on December 13 titled, “The Anti-Abortion Movement Is More Conspiracy-Addled Than Ever” which asserts that the pro-life movement, and Live Action founder and president Lila Rose in particular, are anti-semitic. It is little more than a hit piece…  with a lot of pseudo-academic window-dressing.

You Can’t Have it Both Ways

The author, Audrey Clare Farley, begins by asserting that “[t]he ‘pro-life’ movement has gone full groomer,” citing the fact that Lila Rose and other pro-life leaders have recently decried the sexualization of children on Twitter and elsewhere. However, the author claims concurrently that these efforts 1) are “disingenuous” because they don’t go far enough, and 2) are dangerous in and of themselves. 

On the one hand, she claims that Lila Rose in particular is “apathetic” about children being sexualized because she has not denounced “purity culture” – drawing a false equivalence between that particular movement, which Farley believes hypersexualizes children, and Balenciaga’s ads featuring children and bondage wear. She further alleges apathy toward child sex abuse on Rose’s part because, to Farley’s apparent knowledge, Rose didn’t denounce clerical sex abuse scandals, something Rose actually has done, repeatedly

On the other hand, Farley claims that, so long as Lila Rose and others within the pro-life movement continue to speak out about the sexual grooming of children, “Jewish lives will be among those that are increasingly endangered” – a nonsensical claim she never bothers to explain.

So which is it? One cannot simultaneously go too far and not far enough.

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Conflating Religion and Abortion

Farley criticizes Rose for “refer[ring] to abortion as a ‘satanic ritual[.]’” However, it is actually the Satanic Temple’s leaders themselves who have decided that abortion is one of their religious rituals – the Temple has repeatedly sued against pro-life laws on so-called religious grounds, and has even demanded that the FDA supply it with abortion pills directly for “sacramental” use. 

Farley also quotes Catholic scholar David W. Lafferty as saying: “It is now fairly common to hear pro-lifers talk about abortion as a religious rite.” No citations to any pro-lifers actually using this kind of language are given. In reality, it seems to be abortion apologists who are making abortion about “religious” ritual. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, whom Farley also quotes, has called what abortion groups do “holy work.” And interestingly enough, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who claims to be a devout Catholic while holding pro-abortion views) has also referred to the abortion issue as “sacred ground.” 

Double Standards

Farley condemns Rose because some Twitter users have made repugnant anti-semitic comments in replies to Rose’s tweets. But if Twitter users were to make pro-life comments on Farley’s tweets, should she then be deemed to hold pro-life views? Should she be expected to condemn each and every one of these comments personally – even if thousands or tens of thousands of replies were made to a single tweet?

Farley also cites a few of Rose’s past tweets that highlight the Nazi Holocaust as a legitimate and unforgivable atrocity – enumerating its death toll, and calling it a “devastating injustice,” for example – in a preposterous and strange attempt to claim that Rose “subordinate[s] [Jewish] suffering under the Third Reich to abortion.” Acknowledging the devastation of other human atrocities (like abortion) does not mean one is denigrating the magnitude of the Holocaust’s devastation.

Furthermore, Farley claims that “[a]ntisemitism … has always been a part of the anti-abortion movement.” To support this claim, she cites fringe personalities (like Michael A Hoffman, a notorious anti-semite who claimed abortion was a Jewish “family value”) and fringe ideas (such as the idea that the Jewish people were somehow responsible for Roe v. Wade) – but these personalities and ideas have never been embraced by the mainstream pro-life movement, and certainly not by Lila Rose. 

But what about the well-established and highly-publicized racist and anti-semitic histories of others within the pro-abortion movement? If Rose is to be attacked and held responsible for the actions and statements of fringe members of the pro-life movement, shouldn’t the actions of the largest – and certainly most mainstream – abortion corporation be held against the pro-abortion movement and its apologists, including Farley? 

Planned Parenthood has perhaps one of the worst records of racism of any modern corporation. The corporation was even recently sued for anti-semitic discrimination by a former employee, who alleges that George Walker, Planned Parenthood’s VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, called Orthodox Jewish women “birthing factories.” 

But does Farley accuse the pro-abortion movement of anti-semitism as a result of Planned Parenthood’s actions? Does she condemn that organization as racist due to the statements and actions of Margaret Sanger, its founder? Hardly. She doesn’t even mention it.

Farley is projecting, gaslighting her readers, and accusing Lila Rose and the pro-life movement of that which pro-abortion apologists are actually guilty. Her article is an attack piece – and little else. It may be dolled up with a lot of “scholarly” commentary, but the invective modus operandi shines through with crystal clarity. Taking its ad hominem claims seriously would be a serious mistake.


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