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Lila Rose is the best-known pro-life activist in the U.S., and probably of the whole world. At just 19 years old, she exposed some of the most inhumane practices of the abortion industry through her organization Live Action, and has not stopped since.
Her book, Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force of Change in a Broken World, was released on May 4. The book serves as an easy-to-read handbook for pro-life and Christian activism based on Ms. Rose’s personal story, success, and failures as the millennial face of the pro-life movement in America.
I will admit that, when I read the first few pages of the book, I thought it would be a tender and somewhat cliché personal story of faith and overcoming difficulties. The sort of things you’d read on a Sunday after a couple of weeks of preparing a paper or doing some heavy reading.
Boy, was I wrong.
Fighting for Life is a heart-wrenching and raw telling of the worst side of the abortion industry (is there even a good side?) and its efforts to sabotage the pro-life movement. Abortion is a topic that I am deeply passionate about (especially now as the father of an unborn child), but I will try to focus on just a couple of points that caught my attention.
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To the hard of hearing you shout
I will admit it. Although I am pro-life, I disliked some of the raw tactics some pro-life activists used, such as showing abortion procedures and talking about abortion as genocide. I, naïvely, thought it was unnecessary. I did not need to know that abortion was one of the most heinous crimes of our day.
One can find one example of these goreish descriptions in Fighting for Life:
Early abortions, in the first trimester, typically use suction instruments to rip the developing baby apart and out of the womb. Increasingly over the past twenty years, the drug Mifepristone or RU486 has been pushed by the abortion industry to poison and kill the developing child and then deliver in an artificial miscarriage. Later abortions in the second trimester are typically done using forceps to rip the baby out of the womb, whole or in pieces. At later stages and in the third trimester, abortionists may kill the preborn child with a chemical injection first, before tearing him or her apart with forceps or inducing labor of the stillborn baby.
But these things are not about people like me.
Constantly criticized by the violent nature of her writings, Flannery O’Connor once said: “you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”
Our age is blinded. Most people do not know about the horrific nature of abortion. And, sometimes, these are the only ways to awaken them.
In fact, Ms. Rose’s involvement with the pro-life movement began just like that:
I knew my parents were subscribers to the National Right to Life newsletter. Digging around the house, I found a recent copy. The newsletter included diagrams that showed the four stages of a D&X abortion, short for “dilation and extraction,” sometimes called a “partial birth abortion.” (…) They showed a fully formed infant delivered feet first, up to his neck. With the baby’s legs dangling and kicking and his head still in the birth canal, the doctor pierced his neck with scissors and then placed a suction tube inside his skull. With his brain sucked out, his skull collapsed, and he was pulled out of the birth canal dead.
Pro-choice activists generally defend these practices trying to reduce their significance by saying they are extremely rare or outright denying their nature. But late-term abortion is a brutal murder. Of course, it is not all-too-common, but according to the CDC, 5,341 women had a late-term abortion in 2018. That is 5,341 too many. By all scientific measures, a baby at 24-weeks is a human being. We all have a friend or two that were born at 6 or 7 months.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to minimize abortion in general and a 2-week baby is as much as a human being as a 24-week baby. But late-term abortion is so brutal and inhumane that you almost have to by a psychopath not to oppose it. Of course, most ‘moderate’ pro-choicers will say they are against it but do nothing about it.
Did I just say pro-choicers are psychopaths? Not quite. Most pro-choicers, in fact, have a generally sound moral consciousness. They are not evil. They are not monsters. They love their children and might be your friends, neighbors, and family. But how can they support such a brutal practice or at least don’t mind much about it?
Ms. Rose has a knack for incorporating deep philosophical insights into her writing in a way that their readers can easily understand. The best example is how she explains Hannah Arendt’s notion of the banality of evil:
In 1963, Jewish philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, who had fled Germany as Hitler came to power, coined the phrase “banality of evil” in her reporting on the trial of Adolph Eichmann. The term banal means “obvious” and “boring,” something that is unremarkable. One of the principal architects of the Holocaust, the balding, bespectacled Eichmann looked more like an everyday bank clerk than an executioner responsible for genocide.
Most pro-choicers are not bad people; they are just blind. They do not care about a baby in the womb because they do not think it is human and do not think he or she has intrinsic dignity. In fact, if you let them know how barbaric an abortion procedure can be, many will not even believe it. It sounds too barbaric to be allowed in a society like ours; it just cannot be possible, they say.
Fighting for Life shows the brutality of Planned Parenthood
Of course, speaking about Fighting for Life without speaking about Planned Parenthood would not make much sense. Most of the book circles around showing the brutality of Planned Parenthood’s work, which American taxpayers fund. Unfortunately, Fighting for Life is not an Erin Brokovich-like story where a single woman takes down a corporate empire. It does not have a happy ending, but only because the ending is yet to come.
But probably the best of the book is how she tells her own story against Planned Parenthood, starting as a 19-year-old student going undercover to show how hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinics were in full disposition to cover for statutory rape and human trafficking, receive donations from racist donors that wanted to kill black babies and promote sex-selective abortions.
Although Planned Parenthood presents itself as a family-planning organization that helps women make decisions about bringing a child to the world, Live Action’s investigations showed that the word “adoption” is seldom mentioned in these “counseling sessions.”
Has all this work had an effect? Ms. Rose claims that “In 2006, before we launched our first investigation into Planned Parenthood, 41 percent of Americans considered themselves pro-life. By 2013, that number had increased to 48 percent, despite Planned Parenthood’s control of the White House and the media,” and if we went even further, in 1996, 56% considered themselves pro-choice.
Can the pro-life cause survive in a liberal state?
The always controversial Michel Houellebecq wrote an essay in the midst of the potential legalization of euthanasia in France where he said:
When a country — a society, a civilisation — gets to the point of legalising euthanasia, it loses in my eyes all right to respect. It becomes henceforth not only legitimate, but desirable, to destroy it; so that something else — another country, another society, another civilisation — might have a chance to arise.
We can say the same about abortion. I do not wish to put words in Ms. Rose’s mouth, but the question that hinged on my mind through the Fighting for Life was if we could still happily call “legitimate” a political system that allows and celebrates the killing of the weakest in the hands of their own mothers. To quote Mother Theresa’s words, as quoted by Ms. Rose, “If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
Going even further, liberalism allegedly promotes a so-called marketplace of ideas where different points of view about a topic can coexist. But if you are a pro-life activist, you discovered this was a lie way before Big Tech started suppressing conservative viewpoints last year. Lila Rose explains the censorship Live Action suffered on Twitter and Facebook:
To continue advertising, we were told we would have to delete ultrasound images, our undercover investigations, all references to abortion, and all criticism of Planned Parenthood—not only from our Twitter feeds but also on our website. In contrast, Planned Parenthood was permitted to continue advertising, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year promoting pro-choice tweets.
In conclusion, Fighting for Life is an exciting, hopeful, yet heartbreaking book about the grandest injustice of our time. I wish I had more space to discuss other subjects such as Lila Rose’s discussion of her mission, and the significance of prayer for Christian activism. But I think that the key point of Fighting for Life and all arguments against abortion can be summed up into two: that life is worth living and embracing life is one of the greatest acts a human being can do. Or, to put it in Lila Rose’s words: “A new child’s life is always good. A new life is always worth celebrating, no matter how he or she came into existence.”
Edgar is political scientist and philosopher. He defends the Catholic intellectual tradition. Edgar writes about religion, ideology, culture, US politics, abortion, and the Supreme Court. Twitter: @edgarjbb_ // Edgar es politólogo y filósofo. Defiende la tradición intelectual católica. Edgar escribe sobre religión, ideología, cultura, política doméstica, aborto y la Corte Suprema. Twitter: @edgarjbb_