Why Lila Rose Keeps Fighting for Life: An Interview
As Americans, we grow up believing that we can make a difference. Millions of citizens get involved with political causes, worthy or unworthy, convinced they can work for “change.” But how do we judge whether a given change would really be for the better? How can we form ourselves to become a force for Good? How do we keep the balance between commitment to a cause and leading a worthy life? Pro-life activist Lila Rose, who started her crusade in high school, has a new book on all these topics. The Stream’s John Zmirak interviewed her about the book, Fighting for Life.
John Zmirak: What can readers expect to find in your new book?
Lila Rose: I think many of us are deeply concerned about the lies, confusion and destruction present in our culture today. Some 2,363 children are killed daily by legal abortion. Lies proliferate about human dignity, sexuality, motherhood and fatherhood. Fighting for Life is a manual for how each of us can get in the fray of our cultural and political battles and create lasting change.
I believe that there is no limit to what one person can accomplish, if you are willing to dedicate your life to a greater mission and stand up for what is right. Fighting for Life addresses how we can identify our mission. Overcome our own fears and obstacles. And experience personal transformation — so we can each be an effective force for change in the world.
Telling Her Own Story
What made you want to write in an autobiographical form?
Arguments and facts are important, but stories can transform our understanding of an issue in a way no argument can. I wanted to share what I’ve learned as a young woman, non-profit CEO and investigative reporter. Learned as I built Live Action from a tiny student club in my parent’s house (I was 15) to the global leader for online pro-life education. I also felt strongly that I needed to record and detail some of the evil I’ve witnessed first hand in the abortion industry.
So Fighting for Life is part autobiography, part activist-manual. It was important for me to be vulnerable by sharing my own struggles and mistakes in my work over the last fifteen years — not just the triumphs and breakthroughs — because I wanted the reader to know that no matter their own struggles or failures, they have a personal mission, too, and are needed in the fight.
Rolling the Stone Back Up the Hill
The pro-life movement has hit many walls, despite its fervent efforts. What gives you hope for its success in our lifetimes?
There are huge obstacles. Most of our institutions are radically pro-abortion. Along with perpetuating other lies, our education system brainwashes children to accept abortion, the killing of children, as part of “women’s rights.” Meanwhile, our legal system is severely broken. It has been since seven men on the U.S. Supreme Court erroneously and illogically invented the “right” to kill a child in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. That effectively forced states to permit the murder of children.
Despite all this, I am extremely hopeful. I’ve seen first hand that with education and some patience, people do change their minds on abortion. With a little push back against the lies of the institutions around us, the pro-life position can correctly be seen as the obvious, loving one. Women and girls facing unexpected pregnancy do choose life — and the abortion rate has declined over the past decade. Men and women of all walks of life do wake up, and realize, “I want to join the pro-life movement, too, because I can’t sit by while lives are being taken.”
Our society is weak at its foundations because we’ve redefined marriage, rejected basic tenets of morality, particularly sexual morality, denigrated the essential roles of mothers and fathers, and pitted the strong (adults) against the weak (preborn children). But we can help rebuild those foundations with persistent, patient education of future generations, successful community organizing, and personal recommitment to each living out family values in our own communities.
Pro-Death Democrats, and Cowardly RINOs
You yourself have hit peaks and valleys of political success. When you exposed Planned Parenthood’s worst abuses, you came close to causing it to be defunded. Then GOP cowards on Capitol Hill let your hard work go to waste. How should we deal with such reverses, personally and spiritually?
Our 2011 investigation exposing seven Planned Parenthood facilities aiding and abetting the sexual trafficking of underage girls. Then a bi-partisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of their $500 million in taxpayer dollars. Prior to the sex-trafficking investigation, we had exposed Planned Parenthood covering up child sexual abuse in nearly a dozen of their facilities. Also Planned Parenthood accepting race-based donations (aimed at aborting only black children) and providing medical misinformation to patients. At this point, several states had already defunded Planned Parenthood, but the federal vote in Congress was historic.
Despite the progress we had made, Planned Parenthood was able to maintain their federal funding. Pro-life politicians in the House caved to pro-abortion demands in the Senate. House Republicans feared getting blamed for a government shutdown if they failed to approve a budget that included taxpayer funding for the abortion industry.
Working around the clock as a young activist in DC at the time, I was deeply disappointed by their willingness to kill all that momentum and cave to pro-abortion forces. I saw first hand the decades-long chokehold Planned Parenthood had on American politicians.
But a battle lost is no reason to give up: it’s only an impetus to fight harder and smarter so we can win the war. I came to understand that inertia and cowardice in DC can only be defeated by mass pressure from the rest of the country. Along with investigative reporting, I realized that Live Action needed to focus its efforts to build and educate a powerful, effective grassroots pro-life movement that could successfully force political change.
How Not to End Up a Lonely, Burned-Out Fanatic
You struggled to maintain a balance among your work, your spiritual journey, and your personal vocation to marriage and family. Is there any advice in your book to other women trying to do the same?
Yes, this is the age-old struggle of any man or woman on an intense mission: how does the vocation of family life fit into the war I am fighting? How do I build my own family in the middle of a battlefield? We could spend every hour in the day (and into the night) doing our professional work or our activism. I learned early on, from my own parents, that no matter how important my work was, it didn’t give me permission to ignore or neglect my family or responsibilities to my friends.
I also learned that God instituted Sunday for a reason. Taking time for rest, worship, recreation, are essential to respecting the gift of my own life (and sustaining it!) and honoring God and others. I felt called that having my own family one day, getting married, having my own children, was the deepest world changing work I could do. It wouldn’t replace my pro-life activism, but it would be the larger calling around it.
The family is the domestic church, the first society, and a nation rises or falls on the strength of its families. While my devotion as a wife and a mother came naturally, I had to work hard (and still am!) to practically find a rhythm that prioritized my family alongside the ever-urgent culture and political battles.
There is profound beauty and value in the little things: making my son breakfast, doing his laundry, creating a harmonious home with my husband and children, a place where extended family, friends and neighbors can find joy, encouragement and peace.
Not everyone is called to family life, but we are each called to love and serve individuals. Not just ideas, or collective groups, or missions. We must love the individual souls that God places in our paths. In the end it is daily acts of love, us willing the good for one another in the relationships we form, that will win our war for life — more than any political strategy, educational campaign or social program.
Is the Pope Catholic?
At the moment, it appears the Vatican won’t let US bishops forbid Communion to prominent pro-aborts like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. But it does host pro-choice celebrities in Rome. What is your message to your fellow Catholics right now?
The greatest human rights abuse in history is the killing of preborn children. Over 1.5 billion boys and girls have been slaughtered worldwide due to legal abortion in just the last two decades. The global death toll is over 100,000 lives taken every day. Recent saints and past popes have spoken out strongly against this unbelievable horror. It is understandably painful to witness the lackluster response from many of our contemporary bishops today in response to this crisis.
This response has even led to confusion about the receiving of the most Sacred Host by politicians and public figures who are in an aggressive, unrepentant war with fundamental teachings of the Church. President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and many others publicly advocate for the right to kill children and policies that promote their deaths. Yet they present themselves, undeterred by many Bishops, for communion — putting their souls in grave danger and provoking widespread scandal and confusion.
That said, our role as Catholics does not change based on the fidelity — or lack of fidelity — of the episcopate, or anyone else for that matter. As promised, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church and Her 2,000 years of sacraments and infallible, magisterial teaching. It is up to each of us to form our consciences carefully. To educate ourselves on the wealth of the Church’s teachings on life, sex and human dignity. And to passionately evangelize those around us with the truth, and to live lives of heroic virtue.
The good news is that God’s grace abounds all the more in some of history’s darkest corners. If we find ourselves in that corner we can be assured that His grace will not be lacking. Let your light shine, Catholics, and all people of goodwill and conscience — and go out there and fight for life! We can determine the course of the future, the truth can defeat the lie and love can defeat evil, if we are willing to step into the fray and give our very best.
The Seamless G-String of Pro-Choice “Christians”
What do you think of “Seamless Garment” arguments, that say we should focus not on outlawing abortion, but providing government programs to convince pregnant women to choose Life?
The government (on as local a level as possible) absolutely has an important role in providing social services to the needy. But it is ludicrous to argue that abolishing abortion is unimportant. Local communities, both through the private and public sector, should work to ensure that parents and young families, especially vulnerable ones, have the resources they need to support their children. That’s why the pro-life movement invests most of its financial resources in material and financial support for young mothers and children, as well as adoption and foster-care. We must also work to criminalize the abortion industry, and remove killing centers from our communities.
Is It Fair to Bring a Child into a World with Such a Low Birth Rate?
What kind of a world do you hope for for your children? What are you personally doing to foster that?
It’s easy for me to get emotional thinking about what future my son (and our second, unborn child, due November!) will inherit. I know many parents feel this way, as we consider the huge challenges our kids may inherit because of our broken culture. The world I want for my son is one where the government fulfills its role. That is, to protect the basic rights of its citizens, starting with the right to life and to work for the common good. Society prizes the freedom of individuals to choose the good, and works to encourage that choice for good. It’s a world where abortion is unthinkable, where children are embraced as gifts, where marriages and families are strong, and where seeds of faith can grow into towering trees.
I know that my ability to help create this world is tied to how much I am willing to grow and risk myself. For that I need to be deeply rooted in my identity as a daughter of God, and as a wife, mother, friend, sister to others. We will continue our work at Live Action, building unprecedented coalitions of pro-life activists and increasing pro-life public opinion through our educational campaigns. I’m also working on other projects to better educate and inspire others to see a holistic vision of what a culture of life is. Projects that support young families, mothers, fathers and marriages. Fighting for Life is also one contribution towards creating that world, and I hope it encourages and inspires you.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”