Transforming the Abortion Debate
Lila Rose delivers keynote address for Respect Life Week
Notre Dame Right to Life welcomed Lila Rose for the keynote speech for its “Love in Action” Respect Life Week on October 5. Her talk was entitled “Transforming the Abortion Debate.” As founder and president of Live Action, a nonprofit media and news organization focused on educating the public on abortion and inspiring people to work to end it, Rose described her work in the pro-life movement and encouraged the audience to join her efforts.
Rose began by describing the current situation she has observed in America where there is much resistance to the pro-life message.
She recounted how she had seen a Planned Parenthood tote bag listing all of the services Planned Parenthood offered while she was shopping in a local boutique in her home city of Berkeley, California. When she tried to engage the clerk in dialogue about the services Planned Parenthood offered and its role as the largest abortion provider in the United States, the clerk refused to talk with her. Rose perceives this “closing of the mind and resistance to have a discussion [about abortion],” as a sign of the woundedness caused by involvement with abortion.
From a young age, Rose developed a passion for the pro-life movement. Growing up in a large family in California, she found her parents’ copy of “Handbook on Abortion” and was immediately shocked by its graphic images of abortion and the statistic that 3000 lives were taken by abortion daily. These realizations sparked her passion to fight abortion.
She also connected her inspiration for the pro-life movement to Saint Mother Teresa, who she called “a force for love.” She quoted Saint Mother Teresa who warned, “The greatest destroyer of peace in the world is abortion.” Rose echoed this when she emphasized the need for laws to defend the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Rose stated that a country cannot “turn its laws against the right to life of the weakest members of society,” and continued, saying “Children in the womb are the weakest. They have no way to speak out.”
She next outlined her call to go undercover and expose Planned Parenthood’s abortion industry, starting in college as a student at UCLA. By posing as a young client of Planned Parenthood and using hidden cameras, she has investigated and uncovered the organization’s cover-up of abuse and what she deemed as the spreading of misinformation.
After recounting how she became involved in the pro-life movement, Rose spoke about the undercover work she has done to investigate Planned Parenthood’s cover up of sexual abuse and statutory rape and the harm she believes abortion has inflicted on women. She explained how the woman who chooses abortion “feels powerless because there’s forces in her life driving her to feel like she has to do this.” This coercion can come from family, a partner, or even colleges who tell her there is no other option. She declared, “Abortion is the ultimate position of powerlessness for a woman.”
Rose showed the audience several videos she has produced with Live Action. The goal of these videos, which are shared via social media, is to educate viewers about the misconceptions and realities of abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Although her Live Action videos have changed many viewers’ minds and literally saved lives when mothers choose to not have abortions, Rose admitted that her work is taxing, and it is overwhelming for her to see so much death even when she has successes. She reflected, “Abortion is a violent act and can be so devastating for women, for families, for fathers.” She is hopeful, though, and said, “We are proclaiming something so beautiful and so good.” Rose recognizes that the view of goodness must include both our neighbor and ourselves and the need to adopt an attitude of wonder.
Rose is still optimistic for the future of the pro-life movement because she has seen many minds changed, stating that she “firmly believe[s] that this generation … will end abortion legally and culturally, and we can transform this country to make people see not just the value of the life in the womb, but more deeply see the value of their own lives and the lives next to them.”
She considers the key to conversion to “give people permission to change instead of coming at it straight with labels and a political argument.” She clarified that there is a need for abortion to be discussed and fought in politics, but sees conversations and questions better for personal encounters. She is confident that “deep down people know the value of life… and have a profound sense that life matters and humans deserve protection.”
She concluded her speech by encouraging the audience to “go out with our talents, not compromising what we know to be true, but doing it with love, and sharing the truth whether it’s about abortion or life.”
Junior Mati Sarosi, Joys of Life Commissioner for Right to Life, told The Rover, “I thought that Lila Rose’s emphasis on education was a crucial affirmation of the mission of Notre Dame Right to Life, as we seek to similarly inform and empower students about the dignity of human life and the destruction of abortion.”
Mackenzie Kraker is a junior biochemistry and theology major living in McGlinn Hall. Like Lila Rose, she was homeschooled and got her start in pro-life activism at a young age thanks to her family’s many pro-life field trips. If you want to hear about how great it was to go to school in PJs or want to talk about the pro-life movement, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.