Lila Rose: The New Darling of Anti-Choice Right-Wingers
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he’s a committed and politically savvy 20-year-old UCLA history major who, posing as a much younger girl, goes into clinics asking for help with an unwanted pregnancy -- and films the results in the form of an exposé and posts them online.
Meet Lila Rose, president of Live Action Films and the new face of the anti-choice movement.
Steeped in conservative Christian politics, Rose has already benefited from the generous assistance of powerful players like communications firm The Leadership Institute, a high-powered conservative Christian legal organization, and a well-known DC-based Public Relations firm. She was the recipient of Operation Rescue’s 2008 Person of the Year Malachi Award, and her campaign at UCLA to urge administrators to cut ties with Planned Parenthood received the endorsement of Dr. Alveda King, the ultra-conservative niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Fresh from organizing the first-ever “Exposing Abortion” student conference at UC Berkeley, and from being dressed down by U.S. News & World Report columnist Bonnie Erbe, Rose launched a pro-life magazine at UCLA called, ironically, The Advocate . She appears regularly on talk radio programs and cable news shows, including a recent visit with Glenn Beck on Fox.
Critics have called her devious, deceitful, and dishonest. Supporters say she’s a breath of fresh air; a gutsy player who defies stereotyping.
She’s passionate, persuasive, ready for prime time, and she has Planned Parenthood in her sights.
Smile, You’re on “Live” TV
While Rose’s undercover “sting” videos posted on YouTube (surreptitious encounters at Planned Parenthood clinics in Indianapolis, Memphis, Los Angeles, and Tucson) will never garner Susan Boyle-type numbers, her videos could still have an effect on the fortunes of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a national provider of a wide array of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion.
Since 2006, Rose and a friend have been approaching Planned Parenthood clinics pretending to be underage girls, pregnant by older men, seeking an abortion. Their aim: to catch a Planned Parenthood staffer or volunteer violating the law by counseling the young girls to lie about the ages of their adult boyfriends. The videos, according to the Los Angeles Times are then “boiled down to five minutes, with portentous music and fast cuts to heighten the drama,” and posted both to Rose’s LiveAction.org Web site and YouTube.
“There is this stereotype of who we pro-life leaders are, and for the most part it would be white middle-aged religious men trying to impose their will on women,” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. “So now with Lila, you bring this young, fresh college student that completely blows any stereotypes away. No one is going to accuse Lila of being mean, vindictive, and harsh.”
New Media Twist on an Old Strategy
“Rose’s strategy -- accusing Planned Parenthood of failing to report suspected statutory rapes -- is not a new one in the anti-abortion trenches,” the Times reported. “But the new-media twist on the idea has put her front and center of a new generation.”
“Efforts to strip funding from Planned Parenthood,” notes Amie Newman, managing editor of RH Reality Check, “are actually just a continuation of massive anti-choice campaigns against contraception, family planning, annual exams and pap smears, STI checks for low income women ( and men!). It's stunning, really, to wage a campaign against PPFA as they are the most well known reproductive health provider.”
Indeed, Rose’s work “is an update of an old tactic invented by Mark Crutcher of the Denton, Texas-based group Life Dynamics,” adds Frederick Clarkson, a longtime researcher of the anti-choice movement.