On Thursday afternoon, Lila Rose addressed a packed Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Crystal City in Virginia. It was the second general session of the National Right to Life Convention 2012. The general session was titled “Exposing Planned Parenthood’s Dirty Secret” and was one of two general sessions categorized for exploring the impact of sex-selection on society. The following is a recounting of Lila Rose’s own words while she addressed the general session.
The session addressed general thoughts on young people in the pro-life movement, how Lila Rose was first exposed to abortion, and her first steps of getting involved in the movement, as well as her first investigative videos which ultimately led up to the current investigative project having to do with sex-selection in America. Toward the end of the session, Part 3 of the video project, which took place in Arizona, where sex-selective abortions are illegal, was shown.
To begin, Lila mentioned how people are realizing that we cannot sit on the sidelines anymore when it comes to abortion. The fundamental rights of life and liberty are often linked, and it has been said by many that without life, liberty cannot exist. Lila has spoken many times of the importance of protecting our weakest and most vulnerable members of society, our unborn brothers and sisters. And she also pointed out here that liberty and life are under threat for us all when the weakest of us cannot be born. Abortion was also described as the great human rights issue of our time. In addition to people realizing more and more that we cannot sit on the sidelines, we are also at a historic crossroads. The culture of life is being affected by a culture of death enforcing its will upon human life, the church, the family, and religious liberty, with unjust laws being imposed on society. We have become forgetful about protecting human life. Lila also added, though, that those who realize that the right to life is the first freedom understand well the reason for being at this conference.
When Lila continued to discuss what kind of battle this was, and particularly whose battle this was, she was met with applause. We are in the middle of a good fight, of a battle which is not just our battle, but God’s battle. As it was said to Mary, nothing is impossible to God. Lila continued with a wonderful reminder that this country is consecrated by God, He has His hand of blessing over America, and He is blessing us for this fight because we want to protect the unborn. Later in her address, Lila also mentioned how praying to God can have tricky consequences, because when we ask God to use us for something, he takes us up on our word. And God’s timing also works out very differently from ours. As Lila said, you give God an inch, and He takes a mile. The crowd chuckled along.
There was also much applause when Lila mentioned her big family of 8 children. In addition to applauding, members of the crowd also shared how big their families were. It was among this big family at the age of 9 where Lila came across a handbook on abortion in her living room. The book opened to shocking and horrible pictures of a first-trimester abortion. Lila describes looking away, but she found herself taking another glance. She remembers in heartache wondering how anybody could do this to a baby. As Lila and the audience have acknowledged, for those of us who have seen pictures of aborted children, it stays with you. And perhaps most telling of all is how children are the ones who seem to get it most that doing this to a baby is wrong, and they question such an unspeakable act. The room got quiet over the sobering thought that perhaps we could have had more people at the convention, filling the empty seats, had they not been lost to abortion.
After her discovery, though, and her prayer to God at the age of 13, asking that He use her, Lila started a pro-life club with her friends who were also home-schooled. During this start of leadership, there certainly were occasions when it felt like it was just Lila. She recalls that the best advice came from her mom: leadership is lonely, but we have to forge ahead, and people will follow. And so Lila passes this advice on to others, that we must keep up the fight. We must lead by example, and people will follow us.
Lila said she chose UCLA as the most pro-life campus, to which there were a few chuckles. Laughing herself, Lila mentioned that she actually meant she chose UCLA as the campus she thought she could make pro-life and recalls herself being an overly enthusiastic freshman. It was quickly apparent that there was an epidemic across this and other college campuses, as the hookup culture was taking over. Yet Lila also observed that to her puzzlement, there were no pregnant students for all the sexual promiscuity. She knew something didn’t click, as girls were indeed getting pregnant; the health center actually had been doing 2,000 pregnancy tests a year. Lila says that she knew that abortion was a problem at this university when it was a place where students were told to experiment. She recounts how there were five floors to the health center, with each floor having bowls of condoms. The message coming forth was that you could experiment and do whatever felt good, but you just couldn’t get pregnant. To do so would be to risk being looked down upon.
This notion was confirmed with the first undercover investigation Lila ever did, at the student health center. She credits James O’Keefe, who was then with the Leadership Institute, with assisting her with the project. Armed with a voice recorder in her blouse and posing as a potentially pregnant version of herself, Lila acted the part of a scared student and asked the head nurse, Anne Brooks, what she should do. It was explained that UCLA did not support pregnant students, but that there were two abortionists at the UCLA hospital Lila could be referred to. Also, the health center could even help her find a way to pay for it if she didn’t want her parents to know. The nurse, though, also told Lila, who she did not know was only posing as a pregnant student, that it would be embarrassing if she got pregnant, using the example of having to use the bathroom during class. She also said that if she were to give the baby up for adoption, it would be like giving away a present, that she might regret it. Understandably, Lila was disturbed to hear such advice, and she wanted to report it in The Advocate. The incident was not without controversy, but Lila still continued on.
If the UCLA health center was giving this advice to potentially pregnant students, what is Planned Parenthood then saying to vulnerable underage girls, who may be victims of abuse? The undercover video investigative projects from then on would be a kind of journalistic exposure against the anti-life culture.
Lila then shared stories of her undercover video investigation projects of Planned Parenthood, which grew into a series known as the Mona Lisa Project. This project was not as high-tech as some of the more recent ones. Lila went undercover, borrowing a camcorder from her friend and keeping it in her purse, while she had a voice recorder in her blouse. Lila had read studies of how Planned Parenthood had covered up abuses of underage girls, and so she dressed down to look as a 15-year-old underage girl who had become pregnant from an older man.
The first video was taken at a Planned Parenthood in Santa Monica, which was actually above a coffee shop. Lila certainly recognized the absurdity of how one could go have coffee and then go into a Planned Parenthood as she described this project to the audience. It was the first time she had been inside a Planned Parenthood, and she noticed right away how sad the women there were. Lila says that she saw not only one woman there, but two lives. Ironically, there was a sign in the waiting room that said Esperanza, which means hope in Spanish. Yet to Lila, this was the most hopeless place in Santa Monica.
Lila was taken behind the desk with the Planned Parenthood worker. If an underage person mentions statutory rape has occurred, then Planned Parenthood is supposed to report the incident immediately to the police. Instead, the worker nonchalantly merely told Lila posing as a 15-year-old to just “figure out a birth date that works.”
At the second clinic, Lila spoke with the manager of the clinic and was given the standard line used on young girls in such a position. The manager told her own story of how she got pregnant at 17 years old. She did keep her baby but mentioned that if she could go back and do it again, she would not have continued her pregnancy. Her reasoning was that kids cost a lot. Lila noted that it wasn’t so much statutory rape and the fact that she should have reported it that this manager was focused on, but rather how the manager wished she could go back and get an abortion. As Lila also points out, callousness for abuse stems from a general callousness that leads to all wrongs and the thought that abortion is not a big deal, and is based on the idea that what is growing inside a woman is not a baby. Lila had much to say about such callousness, and very passionately at that. Because as Lila mentioned, and as the audience could certainly recognize, abortion does not liberate you or let you get on with your life. Rather, abortion is an added suffering to women needing help. And it is death and destruction of something that is made in the image of God, something that is meant to bring joy to life.
When the videos were put up on YouTube, Lila thought that they would make people more pro-life. By the fourth day, there were 20,000 views. Then came an e-mail from Planned Parenthood. If the videos were not removed, Planned Parenthood said, the organization would sue for $5,000 for each offense. As scared as Lila was, she turned to God about what to do and got the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) involved. Lila went on Bill O’Reilly for her first national interview and was met with a blessing, as the videos were then aired for millions to see.
Another memory from the undercover video projects was when Lila posed as a 13-year-old who had a 31-year-old boyfriend. Since Planned Parenthood had released a photo of her with her natural hair color, her hair was now bleached blonde. At this clinic, there were two waiting rooms, though. There was a waiting room with women who had children with them, and then there was the jam-packed waiting room with women who did not have children with them, where children were not allowed. The clinic did not want women to be able to think twice about their decision and possibly change their minds upon seeing children playing about.
When Lila and her friend were in the waiting room for children, two women walked in. As the two little girls with them went to play with the toys provided, Lila decided to try to talk with the pregnant woman, to try to get her to leave. She very much saw a life within that woman. There were people outside the clinic, willing to take women to the nearby pregnancy center. Though Lila was operating undercover, she still noticed such people trying to help such women in need. When Lila tried to get this pregnant woman, who said she was there for an abortion, to leave and to talk to the people outside, the woman said to stop talking to her. Soon after, the little girl went up to the other woman, asking her for something. When she was ignored, she went up to the pregnant woman, her “auntie.” Lila watched as this little girl jumped into her lap and snuggled close to the pregnant woman’s stomach, where one womb separated two cousins. Unfortunately, these cousins would never meet. The woman was called in a few moments later, and Lila never knew what happened to her, but it’s an experience she says that she will never forget. Lila says such an experience reminded her that while it may be considered controversial and is pushed away in favor of other issues, we cannot pretend that abortion does not affect all of us, because it does. Lila herself is actually missing a cousin due to abortion.
A big release last year involved a team posing as sex-traffickers. Planned Parenthood workers were actually caught laughing, saying that they would help out and give discounts. Again, Planned Parenthood showed a callousness and disregard for human life.
Planned Parenthood is an abortion provider. Such an organization, and others, stand to benefit from doing late-term abortions. And they have made many gains under this current administration, which has forced us to continue to fund such an organization, despite such documented abuses and cover-ups. It is, as Lila reminded the audience, why this election is so important. As is the case with sex-selection abortion, which was documented and described with a video from the Sex Selection in America project, the abortion industry is also making money on radical abortion as well, for reasons which many Americans oppose. Abortion clinics such as the National Abortion Federation (NAF) will do this even in Arizona, a state where it is illegal to have an abortion for such a reason.
Lila says that she launched Live Action as an organization to get people involved with exposing the abortion industry. Live Action actually has more “likes” on Facebook than Planned Parenthood (at the time of writing this article, Live Action has 375,000 likes, while Planned Parenthood has a little over 323,000). This is attributed to how young people are getting involved with social media and using it to talk about what people don’t want to talk about sometimes.
Perhaps one of the most powerful points of Lila’s address – for me and, I am sure, for others listening in the audience – was when she quoted Mother Teresa, who said that “the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.” Lila also kept to encouragement in continuing the pro-life fight and message throughout, and another quote from Mother Teresa included “God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.” And certainly saving one life would make this trying worth it – a line which was met with much applause from the audience.
Lila noted throughout that she has a deep conviction that this is God’s battle. We cannot rest and face the problem of putting the unborn at risk. We must continue to speak out because we have to create a nation that protects every human life. Planned Parenthood very much has to do with evil and a culture of death. The culture of life, as termed by Pope John Paul II, is the opposite of abortion. It is giving to each other; it is laying one’s life down for a friend. When we love and give to others, we make our lives meaningful. Giving to something greater is a gift, a gospel, a creed. It is the Gospel coming from God and Jesus, who inspire us every day despite the difficulties we may face. When we have Christ in our heart and we give of ourselves, nothing can touch us. Lila also says that she believes we will win and that the law of life and the culture of life will have a place.
From the examples of the Personhood amendment and educating others and getting our youth involved, we know that our side is winning, and we have many people and groups on our side. We will change things with God’s love. Finally, Lila reminded the audience to remember and to be inspired by the call to not be weary and to do good work. We will reap the reward if we do not give up in this fight!
Note: Starting July 16, the mp3 file of this general session, and others, can be purchased online from http://stoptheabortionagenda.com/convention/.