In a letter sent to Live Action supporters on December 7, 2017, Live Action founder and president Lila Rose described the pivotal moment when she became not just pro-life, but a pro-life activist. Rose can trace her passion to protect the preborn back to that one single moment. I was struck by her story, because it is so similar to my own.
“What I saw horrified me”
Rose writes about the life-changing moment:
One day, as a young girl, I was looking for something to read in my family’s home. So I found a book and randomly opened it in the middle. What I saw horrified me – a little 10-week-old preborn baby, with newly formed arms and legs and a tiny face, that had been ripped apart by a first trimester suction abortion… [T]his heartbreaking discovery shook me to my core.
I had no idea innocent children were victims of this kind of cruelty and inhumanity, let alone for it to be sanctioned by our nation’s laws. I also had no idea that over one million precious babies were losing their lives to this injustice every year, and it was happening not very far from the neighborhood of my childhood home.
I knew I had to do something – and I refused to accept killing preborn children as a permanent part of American life.
The aborted baby Rose saw was the same age as the one below. The picture below, from Images of Abortion, shows the arm and hand of a ten week old child.
The baby in this picture was found in the trash outside of Woman Care abortion facility in Michigan in 2008, having been aborted by Dr. Alberto Hodari. In addition to countless babies, four women died from botched abortions at Hodari’s facilities. Hodari was sued for malpractice over 50 times.
In one botched abortion, Hodari left the baby’s head inside the woman’s body. Surgery to correct her badly lacerated uterus left her unable to have children. He was also sued for committing an abortion on a woman who changed her mind on the abortion table and pleaded with to stop and not abort her baby.
In a speech at Wayne State University on November 9, 2007, Hodari told an audience of mostly pro-choice students:
[W]e doctors have a license to lie and it’s true. It’s absolutely true. Sometimes you need to lie to a patient about things that they want to do or know, much less now than in the past because they’re more educated between CNN and the internet, the patients are more educated about what we do.
Hodari has since retired.
As Hodari said, people are more educated about abortion because of the internet. And former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino, has done his part in explaining on videos like the one below — at AbortionProcedures.com — just what happens in each type of abortion. Below, he explains a first trimester abortion:
“Suddenly, I realized that abortion was a terrible act of violence”
My own transformation into a pro-life activist happened when I was about 15 years old. I grew up in the Catholic Church, regularly attending mass and confession and praying the rosary at home. As a teenager, I knew that abortion was wrong because the Catholic Church said it was. I was pro-life. But to me, being against abortion was just another Catholic “thing.” Opposing abortion was no more significant to me than fasting an hour before mass or not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. It was just another teaching, something I was supposed to believe because I was Catholic. On an emotional level, the issue meant almost nothing to me. I had no desire at all to become active in the pro-life movement.
This all changed in a matter of seconds the moment I saw a photo of an aborted baby. It was on a postcard put out by a pro-life group called Human Life International. The child in the photo was eight weeks old. On one side of the postcard, it had a picture of a healthy eight-week-old child in the womb. On the other side, it showed a baby aborted at eight weeks. You could see the torn off arms with fully formed hands and fingers.
The picture below is not the picture I saw, but it’s a photo of part of an aborted baby at the same age.
This baby was discovered, along with 16 others, in the trash outside the Womans Choice abortion facility in Lansing, Michigan.
I was shocked. I had no idea that abortion was like this. I had no knowledge of fetal development at all before I saw that picture. Now, suddenly, I realized that abortion was a terrible act of violence. Being pro-life was no longer just an opinion I was “supposed to have.” Suddenly, I was passionately against abortion and determined to save babies like the one in the picture. In that moment, my whole life changed. I knew immediately that I would spend the rest of my life fighting to stop abortion.
The controversy over images of abortion victims
Images of abortion victims are very controversial in the pro-life movement. Some pro-lifers support showing them at every opportunity. They have been blown up on posters, plastered to the size of trucks, and waved outside abortion facilities. Other pro-lifers think the pictures should never be shown. Abortion photos have different effects on different people. Some people who are on the fence about abortion, or even pro-choice, are converted immediately, like this young woman who left a message on the Priests for Life website:
Hello, I am a 16-year-old female and I just finished looking at the pictures on your site and reading what actually happens during an abortion. Up until five minutes ago I was extremely pro-choice. I thought things like, “let women make their own decisions about their own bodies” and things along those lines. Because of your site, I realize that abortion is not a choice about a woman’s body… It is the LIFE of a BABY. Never before did I realize how truly horrible and careless abortion really is. Maybe it’s because I’d never seen the pictures, or read the actual descriptions of abortion. Maybe I was too afraid to know the truth. I really don’t know. But within three minutes of viewing your website, my face was covered in tears. Those pictures just really hurt to look at. I thank you so, so much for your wonderful website. I cannot express how grateful I am that you have shown me the truth about abortion.
I’m a young woman from NY who recently found out I was pregnant. I wanted to tell you your website saved my baby’s life and my soul. It’s easy to say abortion is an option, until you have to make the decision to have one. I would never be able to take the life of a full grown adult or of a new born. Thanks to your pictures I won’t be taking the life of my unborn either. Keep up the good work.
Other pro-choice people, though, react to the pictures by getting angry and abusive. Some pro-lifers have found that graphic pictures shut down communication and dialogue, which prevents real conversion. There is much controversy about how effective the pictures are. There are good arguments both for and against displaying them.
But in the case of myself and Lila Rose, these pictures were what motivated us to become pro-life activists. In my case, my passion to oppose abortion stayed with me after my dedication to Catholicism came to an end. I do not think I would have become a pro-life activist if I had never seen a picture of an abortion victim. The sight of the mutilated baby made the issue real in a way pro-life speeches and homilies never did.
Both Lila Rose and I, and many others, can trace the start of a lifelong commitment to pro-life activism to the moment we saw the pictures — the horror of abortion.