Written by Carol Baass Sowa, for Today’s Catholic
Allied Women’s Center celebrated their Silver Jubilee of “Saving Babies, Helping Families” with a sell-out crowd for their Oct. 18 gala and words of hope from Live Action founder Lila Rose. In addition, Bishop Emeritus of San Angelo Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, received their Life Saver Award, and Dr. Thomas Loecker and Catherine and Don Varella were honored as Rick Doucette Memorial Volunteers of the Year. Rose shared the story behind her founding, at age 15, of Live Action, a nonprofit which shines a light on what abortion does to the preborn child and on the exploitation of women by the abortion industry.
One of eight children home-schooled by pro-life evangelical Protestant parents, Rose was nine years old when she came across a book in her home, A Handbook on Abortion, by Dr. John C. and Barbara Wilke. In it were photos of a 10-week-old baby who had been torn apart by a powerful first-trimester suction abortion. Horrified, she took the book to her mother and asked if the pictures were real. “Yes,” her mother told her. “This is abortion.” More questions and research followed. “There are now 2,500 abortions in our country every single day,” Rose related.
She converted to Catholicism while a student at UCLA and it was here she came to realize educating people about fetal development and what takes place during an abortion was not the only issue to address. People needed to be aware of the exploitation of women by the abortion industry. As on many college campuses, she observed a crass attitude regarding sex that promoted a “hook-up culture.
She knew girls were getting pregnant, but never saw any pregnant students on campus, so undertook her first investigative reporting at UCLA’s health center, pretending she was possibly pregnant, and asked the head nurse what resources they provided to pregnant women. She was directed to two abortion clinics, where the state of California would pay for an abortion which, she was promised, would not show up on her parents’ insurance.
Pressing the nurse for other options, Rose was told carrying a baby to term would make it difficult for her to stay in school and putting a baby up for adoption was something she “might regret.” Doing further investigative reporting at Planned Parenthood clinics, posing as a pregnant, under-age girl with a much older boy friend, she was told to lie about her age on the form and that the abortion would be kept secret. The manager at one confided she had once been underage and pregnant and kept her baby. But, if given the chance again, she would choose abortion.
“There were actually no options for women,” said Rose. In the environment promoted by schools, the media and Hollywood, lies were being told constantly to try to normalize abortion, couching it in positive-sounding terms like reproductive justice, women’s empowerment and choice. “They take this language,” said Rose, “and use it to mask its great violence against children and its harm to women.”
And, in keeping underage abortions secret instead of reporting them to the authorities, she added, abortion clinics are helping continue the abuse of young girls by sex traffickers or others abusing them. Reports have shown many enslaved in sex trafficking have endured multiple forced abortions and Rose noted she has come across court cases of young girls who, when they grew up, sued Planned Parenthood because they failed to report repeated abuse by an adult in their life, performing secret abortions and sending little girls back to their abusers.
In the last ten years, she observed, as more people are becoming aware of what goes on in the abortion industry, there has been significant defunding of Planned Parenthood at the state and even the federal level, but the battle for “hearts and minds” continues.
Recently, in her home state of California, a bill was passed that will force college campuses to give out abortion pills. “They are turning every college campus in California into an abortion center,” said Rose. Yet, she pointed out, the latest Gallup poll shows more Americans identify as pro-life than pro-choice. “Many people maybe won’t say it,” she said, “but deep down they know that abortion isn’t right.”
A recent effort by Live Action is a series of short videos, narrated by a former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino, who now speaks on behalf of life. Using video animation (so, nothing gory) they show, in precise and horrifying detail, what takes place in the most prevalent abortion procedures for each trimester of pregnancy: injection, suction, pill and surgical dilation and evacuation. Tested in on-the-street viewing interviews with young people in West Coast cities, the change in their opinions on abortion after viewing were remarkable, and Rose showed a brief sample of interviews at the gala – but not the procedure videos. These can be viewed at abortionprocedures.com.
“It takes one soul, one person at a time,” said Rose. “But it’s amazing to see, when people have the opportunity to learn what abortion actually is.” The videos have been viewed more than a hundred million times online and are among the most-watched pro-life videos on the Internet. “They actually can be transformative,” she said, “for someone who before might have considered themselves pro-choice.