Lila Rose was just 15 years old when she founded the pro-life group Live Action, a nonprofit with a mission of ending abortion and inspiring a culture that respects all human life.
What started out as a community group giving presentations has grown into one of the largest pro-life education platforms in America.
The group has gained national attention with its undercover investigations of abortion providers.
The Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek sat down with Rose to talk about how the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule” could impact the operation of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.
They also discussed why states are passing laws that allow abortion virtually without restriction, even as the pro-life movement gains high-profile support.
And in this polarized setting, what is the future outlook for abortion and protecting the unborn in the United States?
Jan Jekielek: So Live Action is certainly, I think as you describe it, a leading platform for the pro-life movement. There’s certainly a lot of social media activity I’ve seen around your activities, and posts, and so forth. Can you briefly explain to me Live Action’s position on abortion, on a pre-born life, and maybe how that differs from some of the other pro-life organizations?
Lila Rose: We serve as an awareness platform, an education platform for the pro-life movement. Live Action has over 3 million people that are following us online; and we’re producing content every day to educate people about the humanity of the pre-born child, the beauty of that child’s life, and then also the evil and the harm of abortion. So we really don’t mince words when it comes to abortion, we expose it for what it is. I think in a lot of today’s political discourse and rhetoric, it’s just this word that is hot, a hot term that’s talked about, but people don’t really know what it is. What does an abortion actually entail? And so we talk about what abortion actually does to that baby, what it does in all trimesters, what it does to a woman, what it does to society, and then, we activate people. We take all this awareness we’re generating and we funnel that into getting people activated in their communities and also taking political action, calling for important measures to protect the pre-born.
Mr. Jekielek: Is there is there any situation where an abortion is justified?
Ms. Rose: The intentional killing of a baby is never a medical treatment. There’s never a justification for it. I mean you could ask the same question, “Is there ever a justification for killing an innocent person?” And the reality is “no.” And the same is true for a child in the womb. There’s no justification for taking his or her life. I think there’s a lot of confusion out there. People on the pro-abortion side are advocates. Abortionists are very much fear-mongers. They’re saying, “You need abortion.” “It’s necessary to save women’s lives.” There’s all these myths out there and Live Action works to combat those myths. There’s never a medical situation where abortion, the direct killing of a child is necessary, and killing, taking a human life is never justified for any reason.
There are cases where if you’re pregnant, there are maybe even life-threatening conditions, but ending the life—directly killing the child—is never a treatment for that condition. So if you have cancer, for example, and you choose to undergo chemotherapy even while you’re pregnant, that’s not an abortion. That’s a treatment for your cancer, to eradicate cancer cells. And if it has a harm to the child, then that’s not the direct killing of the child, that’s not the intended purpose of chemotherapy.
If you’re enduring some other complication with your pregnancy and you need to deliver that baby early, then what we in the pro-life movement, and pro-life doctors would say is wait as long as you can to give that baby a chance at life and then you can deliver that child if need be. But that’s also not the direct ending of a human life. In that case, the goal is not to directly attack that child with forceps or a needle to inject a digoxin poison into that child as late-term abortion procedures do or procedures do. Instead, the purpose is to try to protect the life of the mother and give that baby a chance at life. So these nuances are really important in the abortion debate and there’s a lot of misinformation out there because people say, “Well, we need abortion to protect women’s lives because some doctors say so.” Well, there’s a lot of fear-mongering out there; there’s a lot of misinformation. It’s absolutely not true.
There are over 1,000 medical professionals that have signed the Dublin Declaration saying that we do not need abortion, the intentional killing of a child, as a medical treatment. And it kind of makes sense though, because in the world of the abortion industry and in the medical world today, there’s a lot of fear about complications with pregnancy and it’s easier to abort. It’s easier to do that. There’s less risk involved, sometimes liability for the doctor because they don’t want to have to deal with the pregnancy, they don’t want to have to deal with delivering that baby, caring for that mother, caring for that newborn. So I think that also has tainted the medical profession in the United States and beyond.
Mr. Jekielek: So you tweeted recently …
Ms. Rose: A lot. Although not often on weekends. I try to only do a few on the weekend, but yes, often tweeting.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s one particular tweet that I’m interested in, so I’m just going to read it out to you. It basically said, “Great news. The Trump admin has finalized the Protect Life Rule, which would redirect $60 million in taxpayer dollars away from abortion giant Planned Parenthood to non-abortion clinics. Crucial step in the right direction.” Can you break down for me what you mean by that? How is this a step in the right direction?
Ms. Rose: Sure. So right now, we are funding—federal taxpayer dollars are funding—the biggest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood. So they’re committing 900 abortions a day. Children are being killed at their facilities every day in America, and we’re funding that with over half a billion dollars. So there are a few different funding streams that go to Planned Parenthood. The Protect Life Rule you just mentioned, that just went into effect last week, would block one stream of money. So not all of it, but one stream of it, a $60 million stream that goes roughly annually to Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Jekielek: So 10 percent, something like that.
Ms. Rose: Yeah, exactly, of the federal funding that’s going. So this is done through Title 10 money, which is Health and Human Services. So the Trump administration had the power to do this. A lot of the other money is through Medicaid—Medicaid reimbursements— which Congress has to get their act together and fix because Planned Parenthood is getting hundreds of millions of dollars that way. But this $60 million annually, what the Protect Life Rule has done, put in place by Health and Human Services, the Trump administration, it has said that any facility that commits or refers for abortion cannot receive this special Title 10 funding. It’s called family planning funding. They cannot receive it. So this is great news because this means at least Planned Parenthood is not getting $60 million a year, which is going to hurt. I don’t know that it’s going to lead to clinic closures, but it’s certainly going to harm their ability to operate and continue to reach their tentacles out into communities and try to get people in for abortions. And it’s going to go instead to non-abortion facilities; so it is a win, a modest win, but an important win for the pro-life community and for the life of children in the womb.
Mr. Jekielek: So this actually reminds me of the first response to your tweet. Maybe, I’ll read that as well. Actually, I don’t know if I have it right in front of me.
Ms. Rose: Never read the trolls.
Mr. Jekielek: No, this was.
Ms. Rose: This wasn’t a non-troll. A legitimate. Let’s hear it.
Mr. Jekielek: I’ll paraphrase. Basically, the person was saying that actually, I think she said, 1 percent of what Planned Parenthood actually does is abortion and there’s all these other health services [that] will be impacted negatively if this goes into effect. Can you comment?
Ms. Rose: Yeah. It’s flat-out false. So Planned Parenthood likes to say, “only 3 percent of what we do is abortion.” Even The Washington Post [and] Slate magazine have said it’s seriously misleading or given it the Pinocchios: meaning it’s a lie, it’s false information. And that’s because the way Planned Parenthood is structured is like this. They have brick-and-mortar setup where their only medical equipment, like ultrasounds, their only doctors who are coming in are there to do abortions. That is their cash cow. That is the core focus of most of their facilities that are set up with that kind of equipment. Ultrasounds at Planned Parenthood are used only for abortion, for example. They have other services that really they count extra alongside abortions. If a woman comes in and takes a pregnancy test and then she gets an ultrasound, and then she has an abortion. They might count that as three services, but those are just feeder services for the abortion, and then Planned Parenthood will hand out lots of contraceptives, condoms. They’ll hand out hormonal contraceptives and they will consider that—one pack of condoms here, one month of birth control here—they’ll count that as services.
So they basically have built this machine where they are encouraging sexual activity, especially among young people. They say, as long as it’s safe sex, you’re good. Have it. Just use a condom or whatever. You get on hormonal contraceptives, and often it fails, as we know. If you’re sexually out there and you just have sex with whomever whenever, there’s not really moral guidance to your choices, and you’re assuming that these things from Planned Parenthood will just protect you from having children any time, it’s not going to work. And so you have these young kids, these girls, these college students coming into Planned Parenthood, and they’re coming back for abortion, so Planned Parenthood has lied about what they provide. They’ve even said they have services that they don’t, like mammogram services or prenatal care at a lot of their facilities, and their cash cow and the center of their business model is abortion. And that’s why they are the biggest abortion chain in the country. And even as abortions have begun to decline nationally, Planned Parenthood’s abortion share continues to go up.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating.
Ms. Rose: It’s crazy how blatant the lie is, that “we’re not really an abortion provider.” If you’re not really an abortion provider at Planned Parenthood, why don’t you just stop doing abortions? Then we’re not going to stress about taxpayer funding. You can have the money. But that is their cash cow, and even though they try to obscure it and hide it from the public, that is the reality of how they operate.
Mr. Jekielek: In your view, this 10 or 12 percent reduction in the government side of the funding of Planned Parenthood, will that actually have an impact on the number of abortions that they are able to do?
Ms. Rose: I think it definitely can. I think we’re going to have to see how this plays out. I mean, unfortunately, Planned Parenthood has deep pockets and friends amongst very proactive billionaires, an elite group, like the Soroses and the Buffetts of the world. So they are able to—even with the taxpayer money—they’re able to add on, not just the money they make off of abortions and other things in their facilities but they’re able to add on that donor money. So it could be that they’ll not get tax money and then they’ll go and beg for those donations elsewhere. That is the reality. But it still hurts because that is money that they were counting on every year just to come from the taxpayer dole. And if they aren’t able to replace those funds, at least it’s going to cause them extra work, extra resources along the way, which will hurt their ability to proactively build their abortion business. So anytime you lose $60 million, even if you’re a $1.3 billion or $1.4 billion corporation, it’s going to hurt no matter what.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re extremely passionate on this issue; I can see it thoroughly as we speak. I’ve encountered people that are perhaps equally as passionate about the right of Planned Parenthood to do what it’s doing specifically and also a woman’s right to abortion. What do you make of that?
Ms. Rose: I think it’s a result of a few things. So, first of all, I think there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation in our country. There are well-intentioned people that think abortion is necessary. It’s an important women’s right. And I think that’s because they haven’t been well informed about what abortion actually is. I think they think it’s just a sanitary medical procedure that happens. It’s maybe a little bit sad. But if they actually look at human life and how it develops in the womb, it’s undeniable that this is a life from the first trimester. The heart is beating 21 days or so after conception. It’s amazing how quickly that baby grows. So when people are confronted with the reality of human life and its development in the womb, that changes it for a lot of people. And I think the other part of this is fear.
I think there’s a lot of fear that if women don’t have abortions, somehow we’re set back because we need it to be stronger and better and be healthier and all these things. And I would just tackle that fear head-on and say that’s a lie we’ve been told. We’ve been told this lie that we need abortion to be empowered. Why should we have to kill our children? Why should we turn in violence against our own children in our own wombs to be empowered? Is that really empowerment? What about saying yes to the beauty and the potential of life? What about a society that embraces a mother who’s pregnant and embraces a woman in her dreams as a mother, in her career path, in her education, in her relationships, so that this baby is no longer seen as this threat to fulfillment, but instead, a part of a path of fulfillment and joy.
So I think there needs to be a mind change about pregnancy, about kids, and about what women’s empowerment really means. And I think if we can do that in educating people, we’ll see a lot of women and girls change their minds, because no longer will pro-choice be seen as this empowering thing, but it will be seen as this antiquated barbaric action of abortion that needs to be replaced by a more loving and just view in embrace of human life.
Mr. Jekielek: What does a typical education around abortion and these realities look like for young girls and how early does it start? I’m sure you’ve done a bunch of research on this.
Ms. Rose: Live Action’s goal is to educate so that people can have that mind-change and heart-change on abortion. And first of all, we’re working against the grain. I mean in today’s society, it is a tragedy. It is disgusting that our academia, our institutions of learning, our arts and entertainment, the old-school version in Hollywood, a lot of our politics, including a whole political party, the Democrats, who say they’re for the little guy and protecting those that are disenfranchised and those that are left out, the castaways. That these groups—academia, old-school entertainment, and a lot of old school media and this whole political party and even some Republicans along the way—are in support of abortion. So if I’m a young girl growing up in America, just normal everyday going to public school, watching what is happening at the Oscars or watching movies, reading normal media that might hit me through Netflix or whatever, the message I’m going to hear is that abortion and the progressives, what they’re saying to me is that abortion is good, and that is a twisted thing.
When you’re a kid and you learn about abortion, you’re like, “Abortion is bad.” Any kid, [when] you talk to them and they find out what abortion is, it ends the life of a baby in the womb, they’re like, “That’s awful.” But when you’re constantly being brainwashed, you’re raised to think that it’s progressive to be pro-abortion, it’s progressive to be pro-choice. Progressive to kill a baby? To get forward in life as an adult? Come on, that is the opposite of progress. That is regress. But that’s the state of our culture today. So what Live Action does and other groups is, we just cut through the noise, use social media, use alternative media to cut through the noise and say, “OK, this is what abortion is. This is the intentional killing of a life as early as in the first trimester, that is tearing this child apart.” That it’s this violent act. This is how women and girls deserve better. This is how we can’t be empowered or progressed as a society if we are killing our children. And this is a human-rights issue and we can celebrate life and fight for life and let’s all get in that work together. So we change the paradigm. It’s a paradigm shift. We changed the conversation and we see people change their minds because they’re just given new information.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s an interesting time actually for the pro-life movement. The president of the United States and the vice president of the United States, I read that it was the first time in 45 years that they’ve addressed, both of those positions, addressed the March to Life, for example. I was surprised to hear that, frankly. I mean, 45 years is a long time. At the same time, we’re seeing legislation passed in Vermont and New York, attempted in Virginia, that seems to be increasing the permissiveness of what’s allowed around abortions, abortions later in the term, abortions all the way to term. What do you make of this? On one side, there seems to be this increased support and interest; at the same time, there seems to be this movement in the other direction. Is it just another expression of the polarization in our country? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Ms. Rose: I think you’re spot-on. It’s a deep expression of the polarization in our country. Think back to the time of slavery. What’s the argument of the slave owner? “This is my property—my property, my choice.” I can do what I want. And then the North, the Northern states were like, “No, these are not property, these are persons,” and that is the same debate. You have states like Ohio. You have states that are passing the heartbeat bill, saying these are humans that deserve protection in the womb and we’re going to try to ban abortion. And then, like you said, we have states like New York who are saying these are not even worth the trash. They can be treated however you want to treat them and killed through nine months for any reason, and this something to celebrate. So you see this incredible divide. Some states wanting to completely ban abortion, to protect life, and some states willing to say any abortion, anytime, anywhere, it’s great—it’s something to celebrate. So, polarization, yes. But I would say it’s not because most Americans are so deeply polarized.
I would say most Americans on abortion are mildly pro-choice because they’re really misinformed. They think that it’s necessary. They’re kind of uncomfortable with abortion but they’re OK with it because they think it’s necessary. And then you have people that are aware of what’s happening and extremely hardcore pro-life. And then you have some people that are very pro-abortion because of maybe bad things in their life that happened to them or other more awful reasons I don’t want to contemplate. Maybe they have some attachment to abortion, so they’re the hardcore activists, but then you have a lot of other people that are just going about their daily lives. This battle that’s playing out right now, we see it severely in the political sphere, but in day-to-day life in America right now, most people are just misinformed.
Ms. Rose: They don’t have information and that’s where education is so crucial. We have to fight the political battle, but Live Action is focused on educating people because that polarization will distill, we will we will see it go away when people are informed, when they’re given, in a way that they can appreciate and understand and receive, they’re given the information, the basic information about abortion, about its harm and about the better options for women, about a better path that we can have together as a society.
We were not made to be pro-abortion. It appeals to the worse instincts in us. It appeals to fear. It appeals to a sense of domination. It is not our better angel. And just like Abraham Lincoln talked about better angels during the big battle between the North and South, and fighting for the person and the protection of the basic rights of people, not to get rid of them and their rights because of the color of their skin. Our better angel is that a child is a child, a life is a life, and they deserve our love and our protection. So I’m hopeful because that is our better angel. We’ve overcome great injustices in the past. We can do it again.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s this bizarre case in New York that I noticed and a lot of other folks have noticed where a pregnant woman was killed, allegedly murdered. And under the previous law in New York, it would be a double alleged murder, but in this case, with the new law, basically the unborn child wasn’t considered a person. That’s what I’m understanding. Could you break down that situation and also how this law has changed?
Ms. Rose: It’s a really horrific case. This is a young mother whose ex-boyfriend—and the father of this baby—savagely attacked her, stabbed her repeatedly, killing both her and her baby and I think the report said she was in the third trimester. So this is a baby that she was preparing to deliver. So it’s really horrific and the part that was extraordinarily tragic in the aftermath is that there was no justice for that little baby. Before this New York law went into effect, there was something called unlawful abortion. So if somebody commits a murder against a pregnant mom, who also kills the child, that’s an unlawful death of that child, and therefore, they can be penalized for it. They can be held accountable as the murderer.
With the New York law, there’s no such thing as unlawful abortion. New York law has so enshrined killing life in the womb that even if you’re an actual murderer, killing the mother and then also killing the baby, that baby’s murder does not matter, it doesn’t count. It’s interesting, in other states in this country, there’s a schizophrenia in the law where on the one hand if the baby is killed in an abortion facility at the hands of an abortionist, it’s not a murder. But then on the other hand, if that baby is killed by some enraged ex-boyfriend, some cruel passerby on the street, then it’s a murder. But it was the same exact baby.
So in a way, New York is almost being more honest, even though it’s horrific and it’s a totally unjust law, but at least it’s an honest unjust law because they’re saying it doesn’t matter. If it’s not a life when it’s killed in the abortion clinic, why should it be a life if it was killed in the stairwell of an apartment by an abusive ex-boyfriend? And there’s some logic to that, even though it’s horrific. And I think the country is seeing that. When people hear about that story, they’re shocked, because it challenges our false paradigm that somehow it’s not a life in the abortion clinic, but it is a life elsewhere. It’s a life in both places.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s fascinating. I hadn’t heard that perspective before. So you feel this is kind of an unmasking of the realities of abortion?
Ms. Rose: I think that New York, to the rest of the country, overstepped because it looked so extreme but they’re just being honest about what the real case of abortion activists are and about what the Democratic Party even has in their platform. I mean people don’t realize this, New York’s abortion law is the Democratic Party’s platform. They want abortion enshrined, for any reason, at any time, anywhere. And that’s what New York has done, and other states have done similar things. New York was not the first to do this, but they did in the most extravagant way that people were just disgusted by that. But this is in other states, and this is the Democratic Party’s platform. Most Democrats do not agree with the Democratic Party’s platform on abortion.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s talk about Virginia Gov. [Ralph] Northam’s comments. This is something that’s been in the media a lot. Some people have said that his comments are atrocious. He’s basically saying it’s OK to kill a child after delivery. There’s other folks that say, well, this is a very ambiguous thing, and even his spokesperson, I believe it was in a Vox article, said this is talking about some extreme cases where there are severe deformities or a non-viable pregnancy. Can you un-package this from your perspective?
Ms. Rose: The first question would be: If I have severe deformities or if I am only given a few months to live or even a few hours to live, does that give somebody the right to kill me? And that’s what we’re talking about and what Gov. Northam was talking about when he said it’s OK to kill those babies both inside the womb and leave them to die outside the womb. That’s what he was talking about. He was basically saying: It is OK to kill somebody if they’ve got severe deformities. I mean how cruel? You have severe deformities, so you get the death sentence?
Mr. Jekielek: Is killing and withholding help, is that the same in your mind?
Ms. Rose: Absolutely. If you’re a baby and you’re not fed, that’s withholding help. You can’t help yourself. The person withholding that care from you intentionally, if it’s intentionally withheld, they are purposefully killing that child. And we can talk semantics about it, but the end result is the same—it’s a dead child. And that was the goal. I mean you’re talking about the intent and the action. The action is withholding care. Sometimes, you withhold care because maybe you don’t have care, you’re starving in another country or suffering famine, your intent is not to kill. But if you’re withholding care when you can give that care, when the care is available, and you’re doing it because you want a dead baby at the end of it, then there is an act that’s the same as any other murder.
And whether you’re doing that to the child when the child is born alive, after a failed attempt to kill the child first in the womb, or you’re doing it moments before the baby was born, that’s the same baby. And both are horrible. I think people were disgusted because here he is defending infanticide, and it is atrocious. I mean he was defending leaving borderline infants to die, but also killing a child moments before. That’s the same infant, it’s just in the womb. So this idea that infanticide is horrific, but abortion isn’t, you can’t really hold up both ideas at the same time. If infanticide is horrific, then abortion should be seen as horrific as well.
Mr. Jekielek: So in Virginia, the law that Gov. Northam was referencing, that actually didn’t pass. In New York, and in Vermont, we have laws that, as you said, allow abortion to term essentially. Did I understand that correctly?
Ms. Rose: Yeah, and in over another dozen states.
Mr. Jekielek: And in another dozen states. So why did we not hear about those and we heard about these? Do you do have a sense of why?
Ms. Rose: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think there’s a few things going on. So there are other states like New Mexico, for example, where you can kill through all nine months for any reason. Live Action has actually gone undercover in the state of New Mexico to expose that. Or in Colorado, you can kill for all nine months for virtually any reason. Most people don’t even know that.
Mr. Jekielek: No, I absolutely didn’t know that.
Ms. Rose: Right. And it’s because we are just in this post Roe v. Wade world, where Roe v. Wade effectively stripped away any state protections. It made them invalid. And then Doe v. Bolton, and then follow-up cases. You know, there have been arguments about, well, we can limit it maybe to the first trimester, the second trimester, but effectively, the baseline was, abortion is a woman’s right. And then states had to build on laws to protect the child. So if the state didn’t have those laws— like Colorado doesn’t have laws to protect the child—then you can kill anytime, anywhere, for any reason. It’s up to the states to protect and a lot of these states have never had pro-life laws or don’t have pro-life laws. What was striking about New York is they already had abortion to term for some reasons, but it wasn’t enough for them. They had to write into their state law that it could be for virtually any reason. I say virtually because there’s this idea of women’s health including emotional, mental, financial, relational. So any reason she decides with her abortionist can be the reason to have the abortion.
And they lit up the World Trade Tower pink. They celebrated and cheered on the Senate floor, the New York state Senate floor. They made this expression of glee over it. And in today’s world of social media, everybody could see it. I mean, if this happened 20 years ago and the media chose not to report on it, no one would even know it really happened. But I think that has made this environment where people are finally seeing how extreme and horrific all of this is.
Mr. Jekielek: So I’ve read that the justification for being glad about this was that people are afraid that Roe v. Wade will be overturned with a new composition of the Supreme Court and so forth. So they’re putting in these more extreme laws like you mentioned in New York to be able to counter the potential of that. What do you make of that?
Ms. Rose: Yeah, I think that’s true. I mean that is certainly, even the stated reason in some of these cases where they are concerned about Roe being undone. And so there would be a question of, “Do we have the right as a state to allow abortion through all nine months?” And they want to enshrine that. I think undoing Roe is not enough. The Supreme Court needs to set a new precedent that these are persons, these are humans just like us in the womb and they deserve protection, and it’s in the state’s interest to develop laws that protect children in the womb, just like born children. We’ll see if that happens.
The current makeup of the court has some promise, but there’s also concerns. In the month of December, the court rejected—including Kavanaugh—Justice Kavanaugh chose to reject a case which would have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the states. Some states have tried to defund Planned Parenthood federal money through Medicaid, so it’s a little in the weeds here, but they have been prevented. So there have been lawsuits blocking their ability to do that. And the Supreme Court put a stay on that to allow that block to continue and to basically say that they would not consider the case, at least not at the time, so it didn’t look good for defunding Planned Parenthood anyway. So we’ll see. My hope is that there will be more justices appointed to the court in the future.
I don’t wish ill on anyone on the current court, but I do hope we’ll have better justices in the future who are pro-life and with the current makeup of the court, there’s some hope that we could see progress in undoing parts of Roe. But I think we need to see more of a changed court makeup before we’ll see real solid pro-life rulings.
Mr. Jekielek: So I’m looking here at a photo of your 10-year challenge. You posted this on your Facebook. Quite a difference—the before and after photos. Is it from 10 years ago? This is a photo from 10 years ago?
Ms. Rose: Maybe 11, but yeah, about a decade.
Mr. Jekielek: So this is suggesting to me that it’s really been 10 years that Live Action has been active. Can you tell us a little bit about the genesis? I know that you initially went undercover to investigate abortion clinics. Could you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to do that at the outset, maybe a little bit about what happened in this journey into what became Live Action?
Ms. Rose: I actually started Live Action as a community group as a high school student. Our goal was to give pro-life presentations at schools and churches. When I got to college-university at UCLA, I realized that there was just a lot of misinformation out there about abortion, and the media was not doing their job. So I started to do my own reporting and that included undercover reporting, and as a college student, I actually developed Live Action further, so we were doing national undercover investigations.
We would go from state to state over summer breaks and document Planned Parenthood covering up sexual abuse of minors, document Planned Parenthood lying to patients, document all kinds of abuses in abortion clinics. And this developed Live Action’s national profile. A lot of these stories became, in some cases, headline news or were covered by the press and a lot of people learned what was happening at Planned Parenthood, about many of these abuses.
So a lot of that happened 10 years ago. Since then, I graduated, Live Action has been developed into the leading awareness platform for the pro-life movement, where we reach and educate millions of people every day. And we’re also developing our activation program where we can take those people we’re talking to every day and get them active in their communities to grow the pro-life movement, to help stop abortion in their own communities.
Mr. Jekielek: When you were a high school student, did you get the right education or what you would see as the right education around abortion? Or was this self-taught?
Ms. Rose: I was homeschooled, so in that sense, I did get a great education, because my parents really took education seriously and it was sort of a mishmash of how they approach education. We had classes at the junior college, we had classes at the homeschool classical academy. I took APs in different study courses, but ultimately, there was a lot of independence, so I could independently study abortion. I could do my own research. I could read books about it. I could research it online, and I was able to form an understanding of what abortion actually was, how it harms women and society. And that’s an education I want to now share with everyone else because most people haven’t had access to that kind of education. Not the whole homeschooling part, but at least the part on abortion and human dignity.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you see as a good next step? Going back to your tweet from earlier: “This is a great first step.” What’s a great next step?
Ms. Rose: I’d like to see a few next steps. We have to disentangle federal funding from Planned Parenthood entirely and from abortion entirely. So that means no Medicaid reimbursement for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. That means a no-abortion-provider funding rule that Congress would pass and the president would sign into law. That would mean even if you’re a hospital and you are committing abortions in one ward and in the next ward, you’re delivering babies, you should not be eligible for funds. You need to eradicate abortion practice from your hospital in order to be a life-affirming place and to receive federal funding and to receive money through Medicaid reimbursement or otherwise.
I’d like to see that step because that would send the message to the medical community, and a message to taxpayers that we are disentangling federal money from abortion provision providing. We’re going to disentangle it, and Congress can take that action. I think there’s more the administration could do towards that after the Protect Life Rule, so that would be a big first step for life. A big next step for life.
Mr. Jekielek: So over the years, one of the biggest arguments that I’ve heard in support of abortion is that it’s something that’s been happening since time immemorial. People are going to seek out abortions. If they can’t have good care, they’ll do what they call a coat hanger and all that. Basically, situations where women’s lives are put at risk. So we need to be able to provide this in a safe way, so we don’t endanger people’s lives. How do you respond? I think this is a quite reasonable thing for someone to think. How would you speak to someone who believes that?
Ms. Rose: It’s a myth that women will die, thousands and thousands of women will die without legalized abortion. It’s a myth that was perpetuated years ago during the time of Roe v. Wade by NARAL, by Bernard Nathanson, the co-founder of one of the biggest abortion-activist groups and his co-founder Larry Lader, these two men who literally admitted later on to making up the numbers. They would say that there were hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of women dying in back-alley abortions, but they made those numbers up. The numbers were in the hundreds in some of the reports, the CDC and other reports from the government. So that’s just an example of complete abortion mythology to perpetuate legalized abortion. The reality is, if you limit abortion access—if you do away with abortion, and as a society, we root out the negative attitudes towards children, we approach motherhood, helping women, helping girls, we support each other as a society, support parents, if we change our cultural attitudes and we stop having abortion in every community, in most major cities— just a quick fix, an easy fix—then we’re going to see more people embracing life.
Mr. Jekielek: So do you have any examples, maybe some recent example of someone who was positively impacted in the best possible way by the education that Live Action offers?
Ms. Rose: Yes, absolutely. We see everyday people who say, “This changes the way I think about abortion. I didn’t know this.” We actually just did a survey, which I can share with you, where we polled 1,000 of the people that we connect with on Facebook that are following us and we asked them, “How did you hear about us?” We asked them, “Did you change your mind at all on abortion?” And 18 percent of them said that they did. So they’re connected with us now and following us because a Live Action video or article had changed their mind, which is amazing. And we also heard back from 5 percent of the 1,000, so this was a little over 50 people who said they knew of a life that had been saved from our videos or our content, which we are thrilled to hear because we don’t always get to hear that part.
But we know that there are, we believe, hundreds and thousands of lives that are being saved because people are finally getting that information, and then they can connect to the resources they need for support. Live Action promotes pregnancy-care resources in their work and they can get the help they need, but they can make that choice for life.
Mr. Jekielek: Wonderful. Thank you very much.
Ms. Rose: Thank you. Thanks, Jan. Thanks for having me.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.