Taking on Goliath

InsideCatholic.com | Deal W. Hudson | March 25, 2009

If you think the pro-life movement has run out of energy and new ideas, you should meet Lila Rose. You may not know her name, but you very likely have seen the media coverage of her various sting operations at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country.

Rose is 20 years old, but she is already entering her fourth year of covert operation, as it were, exposing the underhanded — and, in some cases, potentially illegal — practices at abortion clinics run by Planned Parenthood.

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Posing as an underage pregnant girl, Rose has taken concealed audio and video equipment into these clinics. First, she makes sure the clinic personnel know she is underage and that the baby’s father is an older man, repeating his name clearly. By law, the clinic personnel must then notify the police that the alleged father has had sex with a minor.

But in every case, the counselors at Planned Parenthood have brushed aside the sexual abuse of a minor and failed to contact the police. The Arizona attorney general recently opened an investigation of a Tucson Planned Parenthood clinic based upon Rose’s footage.

Previously released footage has already put Planned Parenthood clinics on high alert — each clinic has a poster with Rose’s picture on the wall. I asked Rose how she felt about having her picture displayed like a wanted criminal: “Well, I had to go blonde over the summer so I wouldn’t be recognized. I think it’s sad. They are afraid of this little girl — at the time I was 18 — and more concerned with looking for me than looking for the sexual abusers.”

Rose comes from a large Evangelical family — five brothers and two sisters — in San Jose, California. Her father, John, is a software engineer; her mother, Antonia, a home-schooler. Rose is a junior at UCLA studying history, and she entered the Catholic Church on March 15 of this year.

It was as a freshman at UCLA that Rose first got the idea to record what goes on inside an abortion clinic. “When I came to UCLA there were no pregnant women on campus, so I knew they were being aborted,” she told me. With help from her friend James O’Keefe, she took a concealed voice recorder into the UCLA health clinic pretending to be a pregnant co-ed. When she asked whether they would help her keep the baby, she was told, “We do abortions, but we don’t support women who are pregnant at UCLA.”

When she published the transcript of the conversation in The Advocate – the campus paper she started as a freshman — the story provoked a campus-wide debate among students, staff, and administrators, resulting in the creation of a parenting support network.

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Perhaps even more troubling to Planned Parenthood are the phone calls Rose and O’Keefe placed to their development offices, posing as donors who were pushing a racist agenda. They told development personnel that they wanted to make a donation specifically targeting a black woman so that there would be fewer black children. Not a single Planned Parenthood staffer hung up on them, and some indicated they were in agreement.

Rose and O’Keefe made videos of these phone calls and posted them on YouTube. Some of Rose’s videos, such as this one from Bloomington, IN, have been viewed over 100,000 times.

Rose and her organization, Live Action, are presently in the midst of a multi-state investigation, from which much of the footage has not yet been released. “We have a lot of footage we are sitting on. Planned Parenthood is the world’s largest abortion provider and should be held accountable. But we want to show not only the victims of sexual abuse but also the victim who is the pre-born child.”

Rose’s story is pure David and Goliath. Here is a college junior who doesn’t own a car, working out of her apartment with the help of one paid staffer and friends who volunteer, taking on one of the most powerful, well-funded, and well-connected organizations in the country. Planned Parenthood has tried to silence her: After she posted the videos of her visit to the Los Angeles abortion clinics, Rose received a threatening cease-and-desist letter from Planned Parenthood’s attorney.

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