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Legatus Magazine

Shaking the giant

Live Action’s work has led to greater scrutiny of abortion giant Planned Parenthood . . .

In early February, the pro-life group Live Action released a video that rocked the political landscape.

Peter Breen

It featured a member of the group pretending to be a pimp, asking an employee at a Planned Parenthood center how to obtain STD testing and abortions for his prostitutes— girls he said were minors and hinted were illegal aliens. Despite the patent illegality of his requests, as well as the suggestion of a prostitution ring employing foreign sex slaves, the employee casually offered assistance.

Defunding abortion giant

The video was part of a sting operation the group conducted at Planned Parenthood centers in Virginia, New Jersey and New York. The employees of the nation’s largest abortion provider didn’t question Live Action’s pretend pimps and prostitutes. Instead they counseled how to evade the law to obtain abortions for minors.

The long-term fallout remains to be seen, but a few weeks after the video went public, the House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a $1 billion industry to which taxpayers have annually provided a lifeline of over $300 million. On March 10, in a 56-44 vote, the Senate voted to continue funding Planned Parenthood. Pro-lifers vow to fight on.

Live Action and its founder, 22-year-old Lila Rose, have “undermined the carefully cultivated image that Planned Parenthood serves the interests of women,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the Thomas More Society, a pro-life law center. “When George Soros arranges a conference call to strategize how to save Planned Parenthood’s reputation, you know they’re having an impact that can’t be underestimated. We’re also seeing pro-life bills moving on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures that otherwise might not have without the national exposure Live Action has achieved.”

When Planned Parenthood suggested that Live Action’s tactics were illegal, Breen’s firm stepped in. “We verified that they were perfectly within the bounds of the law and doing something laudable in the great tradition of undercover investigation,” he said.

Rose and her young group are supported by veteran pro-lifers whose traditional tactics against Planned Parenthood — such as sidewalk counseling and mass mailings — don’t get primetime notoriety.

Judie Brown

“I have tremendous respect for Lila Rose,” said Judie Brown, president and cofounder of the American Life League. “Thanks to her, the average American now knows what goes on in a Planned Parenthood clinic. Live Action shows that if you’re in the business of killing babies, you’ll do anything.”

What about Planned Parenthood’s declaration that staff will be retrained to avoid future sex abuse cover-ups?

“We’ve been watching them for 35 years, and they’ll say anything to get the media off their backs,” said Brown. “Lila is proving that Planned Parenthood is a consummate expert at saying one thing publicly and doing another.”

Humble beginnings

For her part, Rose stepped into the battle for life when she was 15. One of eight children, she told Legatus Magazine that at nine years old she found her parents’ copy of Dr. & Mrs. Jack Willke’s Handbook on Abortion.

“I was very shocked,” she said. “I saw images of little arms and legs and wondered how someone could do this to a baby. I felt I had to make difference. It was a natural progression from then on.”

Rose started Live Action in her living room six years later. It began with ministry programs for youth groups in Rose’s native northern California. They soon began using electronic media to reach a bigger audience, particularly among the young. They hit the jackpot when they began doing undercover work within the abortion industry while Rose studied at UCLA, from which she graduated last year.

“Even the President [Obama] talked about the videos we released in February,” she said. “We believe the work we’re doing is like other undercover work that aims to expose the truth and save lives. Our undercover actors are representing victims of sex abuse and women who’ve had abortions after being lied to about the reality of abortion and miseducated about their sexuality and dignity [in school and the culture].”

Rose said she believes legal abortion will end in her lifetime. “We’re already seeing the beginning of the end of Planned Parenthood. Our government was founded on preserving life, but it’s funding an abortion chain that covers up the trafficking of young girls and profits from lying about human life. We need to stop the government’s complicity with evil.”

Live Action will continue to work to that end, Rose said. “We’re a small, committed team and we want to grow,” she said. “We only have two full-time staff, numerous contractors, little overhead and a tight budget: last year about $150,000, though we’re projecting to have a much bigger budget this year to expand our programs.”

She says the Los Angeles-based group will continue doing undercover work, original research and investigative reporting. Her team will continue using the media to reach the widest possible audience.

“We need to mobilize young people through new social media to educate their peers,” Rose said. “We need to organize young leaders who will work hard with us to end abortion. A lot of what we do is grassroots.”

Raised evangelical Christian, Rose entered the Catholic Church two years ago. She took the confirmation name Joan after her hero, St. Joan of Arc. “She gave a complete ‘yes’ to God, going into battle and leading men for love of God and country. When you say ‘yes’ to God, you’d better be ready for a wonderful adventure you can’t imagine.”

And Rose believes her divine adventure has just begun.

Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus Magazine’s editorial assistant.

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