Homeschool grad Lila Rose started the pro-life organization Live Action when she was just 15 years old. Her goal? To reach every heart in America with the message of life. Hear Lila’s story—and her advice for getting involved—on this week’s Homeschool Heartbeat.
Mike Farris: Our guest this week is Lila Rose, who is a great friend of mine [and] homeschool graduate. She founded the pro-life organization Live Action when she was 15 years old. Lila, it’s great to have you on the program.
Lila Rose: Thanks so much for having me on, Dr. Farris.
“Is this really happening?” [0:34]
Mike: Lila, what inspired you to start Live Action?
Lila: Well, there was a number of things, but first of all, I’m from a family of eight kids, and it was a homeschooling family, so it was very faith-based. Life was seen as precious. There were lots of babies, so there was a very positive pro-life ethic in the house, even though my parents weren’t necessarily activists.
What really was the first real encounter I had with abortion that inspired me to later on start Live Action was when I was 9 years old, and I was in my parents’ home—of course it’s a homeschool day, so we’re not in the classroom; we’re in the house, doing homework at the kitchen table or doing it in the dining room—and I wandered into the living room and I find a book on the bottom shelf called Handbook on Abortion by Dr. and Mrs. Willke. And when I ended up flipping open the book—it just fell to the center—I was stunned, because I was staring at the image of a child. And I saw for the first time in the image of a child only ten weeks old, in the first trimester. You could see its newly formed little face, tiny newly formed arms and legs—a child who had been killed by a first trimester suction abortion.
And seeing this as a 9-year-old, you’re not pro-life or pro-choice, you’re just someone who sees a baby. And I was cut to the heart and I thought, “Is this real? Is this really happening?” I went and found my mom, [and] wanted to ask all these questions. And that was my first awareness that there’s something legally happening in our country that’s killing over 3,000 children a day. And this is the kind of child, this image—you can see the humanity of the child in the womb.
Mike: Lila, in light of that gripping story, it still is a daunting thing for a 15-year-old to start an organization like Live Action. How did you do it?
Lila: Well, I think it was the first right step. And the first right step was getting together with friends in my living room and having an education seminar for all of us, to learn more about the pro-life issue and then to take that and teach it to other students in local, first, churches and their youth groups and then later on schools. So it was really starting small: “How are we going to educate our community of San Jose, California, with the truth about abortion and human life?”
Touching every heart in America [2:36]
Mike: Lila, how did Live Action grow into the national organization that it is today?
Lila: Well, there are a number of tipping points. When I got to UCLA, I started doing investigative journalism of the abortion industry. Before, Live Action was focused on community education in San Jose and Los Angeles. And that launched our national work, so that all of the sudden, the whole country was being—through social media and through earned media like Fox News, other media outlets [like the] L.A. Times—what abortion facilities like Planned Parenthood were telling, how they were lying to women, how they were hurting children. And that launched our national programming.
Mike: So what do you hope to accomplish through Live Action today?
Lila: Today, we have become the largest social media platform for the pro-life movement, and we not only do investigative journalism of the abortion industry and lobby, but we do educational videos for exposing what abortion is, human dignity, related issues. Our goal is to reach every single American, no matter where they are, no matter what their background is, to get them the right kind of media and content that’s going to shape their thoughts and touch their hearts about the abortion issue and about the related issues of human dignity and the human right to life.
Mike: Lila, that is a wonderful and extremely ambitious goal, but I am confident as long as we have you and people that you inspire working to stop abortion in this country, I believe we can be successful.
Set up for success [3:52]
Mike: Lila, you were homeschooled all the way through—kindergarten through high school. Tell us about that experience. Is there anything that sticks out to you today as really memorable?
Lila: Well, it was certainly a fun experience, and unconventional—classes at the kitchen table, we had small group classes started with neighbors and other homeschool students.
I think what was most memorable was the experience of growing up with my siblings and being so close with them—I’m one of eight—and being in classes with my younger brother or my older brother, and having this sense of inter-age [schooling]. So I didn’t feel restricted to just be friends with or just to talk to people my age. The whole world was opened to me: I could be with the older kids or the younger kids, I could do extracurriculars that weren’t necessarily traditional. And that really gave me a sense of confidence and freedom that I think has served me throughout my life now.
Mike: How did homeschooling prepare you for the work that you’re doing right now?
Lila: In so many ways. I mean, my homeschool education my parents gave me was the classical one. It taught me how to think critically. It taught me how to research. It taught me how to be independent and start projects on my own and finish them. I did speech and debate—that was amazingly important for preparing me for media later on and national debates with pro-abortion figures. So I can’t thank my parents enough for pouring themselves into my education and really setting me up for success to do the most in this cause for life.
Sharing her message [5:10]
Mike: Lila, what role does your faith play in the work that you’re doing at Live Action?
Lila: Well, any work for the dignity of the child in the womb and all people, it has to be based on an understanding that life is precious and life is sacred. We’re made in the image and likeness of God, and my faith is everything to me. The life of prayer and relationship with Christ is everything to me. I don’t believe that any of my other life would really have the meaning or the love that is meant to be put into it, because it really—the source is God. And at the end of the day this is doing this love for others, because God first loved me. So my faith is really the lifeblood of my whole life and of my work.
Mike: Lila, how do you take those principles and communicate them to people who don’t share your faith?
Lila: I think it’s so important that we try to meet everyone where they’re at. We just launched a campaign called AbortionProcedures.com—videos of actual abortion procedures—animations, medical animations. Over 35 million views. But the message in the videos are each saying: anybody can change, no matter where you’ve been. So we have to be a voice of truth, and uncompromising truth, about abortion [and] human life, but we have to be compassionate and say that anybody can change. Repentance, change, conversion is possibly for anyone. And that is the message, I believe, of faith—Christian faith—and it’s also the message of the pro-life movement. No matter where you’ve been [or] what you’ve done, you can change, and you can join the pro-life movement—the side of love for life and respect for all life.
3 ways you can help stop abortion [6:34]
Mike: Lila, I have had the privilege of knowing you since you were about 8 or 9 or 10 years old or something like that, because you hung out with your older brothers when they were debating and I was judging homeschool debates and so on. And so knowing you for a long time, it’s a great thing. But one day, I was in a meeting on Capitol Hill with the Speaker of the House and all the top Republican leaders, and it was right after you had really launched into this world in your fight against Planned Parenthood. And everyone in the world was singing Lila Rose’s praise, you know like, “Lila Rose supports this!” You had become the gold standard for pro-life activists in this country in a meeting with the top Republican leadership of our country, and I was just basking in the glory: “Yeah, that’s a homeschool kid who did all that.”
And so you have been effective. And I want to know what you can tell our listeners about how they can be effective with you to shut down Planned Parenthood and stop abortion in this country.
Lila: I would love to do that. I mean, that is a key preliminary goal to ending abortion: shutting down the biggest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood.
The very first thing always has to be prayer. Pray to end abortion every day. Pray to ask God to show you what you can do in the fight for life.
The second thing is educate yourself and the people around you. This is very much in the heart of homeschool work, is education. Learn the facts about the abortion industry, about abortion, about human life, human rights, about us made in the image and likeness of God. And educate your kids. If you’re a student, educate fellow students, and start one person at a time.
And the third thing is definitely to get active in other pro-life organizations and in local politics. Find out where the pregnancy center is locally; volunteer. Find out where the Planned Parenthood is locally; pray outside or sidewalk counsel outside. Find out what’s happening in politics in your state, and in your country. And make sure that we are electing folks who are going to stand up for life and not compromise, not waver. I think we all have a role to play in the pro-life movement; it’s up to us to discover what that is. But together, if we stand up, if we pray with boldness to say, “We want to end abortion in our country,” I believe that together we can accomplish that. We can change the course of this nation. And it starts with each of us asking, “Okay, what can I do?”
Mike: Lila, thank you so much for joining us this week. Your message is one that everybody needs to hear. God bless you. I’m Mike Farris.