By Ann Schneible
ROME, DEC. 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- "When you objectify the child, you objectify everyone. When you objectify one person, you objectify the whole world," said Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action.
Rose, 24, was just 15 when she founded Live Action, a non-profit pro life organization dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion. Geared specifically towards the youth, Live Action uses investigative journalism, new media, and independent reporting to expose abuses in the abortion industry and promote the pro life message. It has become known in particular for its undercover investigative reporting, with an emphasis on exposing cover-ups and illegal activity by Planned Parenthood employees: examples include undercover videos which show Planned Parenthood employees aiding and abetting sex trafficking of minors, and counseling young victims of statutory rape to lie about the age of their abuser when coming in for an abortion.
ZENIT recently caught up with Rose while she was in Rome to pursue bringing Live Action into the international forum. She spoke to us about the mission of Live Action, and her reasons
Part 2 will be published on Friday, December 7th.
ZENIT: What motivated you to get involved in this ministry?
Rose: When I was a young girl, I was raised in a wonderful family. I'm one of eight kids. From the beginning, we were taught to love and respect life, and that a new baby in the house was a gift, not a threat. There was a sense of joy and respect for life ever since I was a child.
When I was 9 years old I found out about abortion. I came across a book in my home called "A Handbook on Abortion." I opened it up and was very curious: it had images on the inside, and I was horrified by what I was looking at, so I closed the book immediately and pushed it away, brought the book back, opened it up and looked. And I was looking at the image of a little child, maybe ten weeks old in the first trimester, little arms and legs, already forming a little face, that had been the victim of an abortion. I thought, in horror, how could anybody do this to a baby?
That encounter really pierced my heart deeply, and I thought, some children aren't safe the way I was safe growing up; there must be something that I can do about this. As I got older I learned that there are more than 3,000 abortions a day in the United States. I learned that since 1973, the child had not been protected. Somehow abortion became a constitutional right. I learned that ten miles from my childhood home there was a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic open Tuesdays and Saturdays for abortion – thirty children killed every day. I thought to myself, we have to do something about this; how can we allow this to happen?
I firmly believed that people could make a difference, and I felt a strong sense that we have to use our lives for something greater than ourselves. My faith taught me that as well, and I was very inspired by the stories of Saint Joan of Arc, and Blessed Mother Teresa – who was a big influence when I was a young teen. Just learning about these heroes of the Church, I thought how they've given so much, and that to whom much is given much is asked. We're called to do so much more than trying to pretend that evil is not taking place around us; we're called to be defenders of those that are innocent.
As a young teen, I started to pray about this and ask God what I could do, and ask Him to use me to do something about abortion, to somehow save some lives. It's very dangerous to ask God to use you because he will – give God an inch and he'll take a mile. Because of his love for us, he wants to allow us to be part of his plan to save souls.
I started Live Action when I was 15 with some friends to do youth education. We looked for ways we could creatively, persuasively engage our peers with the message of life, the dignity of the human person, and [educate them] about the violence of abortion.
ZENIT: Live Action is known for its undercover investigative work. Could you speak about this initiative – your reasons for taking on an abortion enterprise as massive as Planned Parenthood, the challenges you faced, but most importantly the fruits that have come from this endeavor?
Rose: When I was a young teen, learning about the abortion industry, and lobbying, I did a lot of research. I wanted to study it better so that I could communicate it better. As I researched it, I came across a lot of the disturbing reports about the abuses that are associated with abortion as that ultimate abuse, that ultimate human rights abuse of killing the child when they are the weakest and most defenseless.
When you objectify the child, you objectify everyone. When you objectify one person, you objectify the whole world. And the abortion industry is rife with abuse and illegal activity. I read some of the reports done by a group out of Texas called "Life Dynamics" who had done their own investigations over the years. They weren't publicized in the way that Live Action is, but they were certainly used in powerful ways: for instance, the statutory rape non-reporting at abortion clinics.
This was all very interesting to me, and when I got to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an 18 year old college freshman, I thought about a way I could take this information and share it with other people. I decided to do my own investigation, just to see what would happen at the Planned Parenthood located five miles from my college dorm. Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion chain, they receive almost half of their billion dollar budget from the government, and they are really the biggest political proponent of abortion here at home and internationally. They have a very vicious, pro-abortion mentality that denies the protection of the woman at all costs to protect abortion as a practice.
My first investigation was posing as a 15 year old in a Planned Parenthood in Santa Monica Los Angeles telling them that I had a much older partner, saying "help me, I'm pregnant! What do I do?" My first piece of advice at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic was to lie about my age in order to get a secret abortion, so nobody would know.
After that whole discovery of my own, and trying out the investigative tactic, I discovered that the camera is so powerful. If a picture says a thousand words, a camera can say a million. It's just amazing what real life visual media can do [to inform people on] what's really happening in the abortion industry. And that's when we set out to use to expose all these abuses.