Alabama health officials placed a Planned Parenthood clinic on a one-year probation in February after a pro-life group released an undercover recording that appears to portray employee willingness to break parental consent laws.
Lila Rose, the 21-year-old leader of the group Live Action, posed as a 14-year-old seeking an abortion who was told by a clinic employee that she could have someone with the same last name approve the procedure. State health officials subsequently determined that nine minors had received abortions from the clinic without proper verification of parental consent.
Rose, who converted to Catholicism last year, has been criticized by abortion groups for using deceptive tactics. In reply, she cited Europeans hiding Jews during the Holocaust and the biblical example of Rahab hiding Israelite spies.
"You're not going to find this out if you call [Planned Parenthood's] pr department," the UCLA history major said. "What we found is what they claim is radically different from what they do behind doors."
In recent years, Tennessee and California lawmakers ended contracts and grants with Planned Parenthood, and Indiana Planned Parenthood employees were fired after Live Action videos were released. In late February, Live Action released another undercover video in which a Planned Parenthood employee appears to violate Wisconsin law about mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, has not heard dissent in the pro-life community over Rose's work. "She is … widely admired for her boldness and ingenuity in going after our Goliath."
Stephen Wagner, director of training for Justice for All, a Kansas-based pro-life organization, doesn't condemn Rose's methods. "[But] I don't want to do that, and that's not what we're going to do," he said. "We've really focused on engaging the pro-choice person."
Jon Shields, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and author of The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right, said, "Live Action is plucky, innovative, trying to get media attention …. They are interested in changing hearts and minds. Whether it's effective or not, that's harder to say."
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Christianity Today's previous abortion activism coverage includes:
Single Mothers, Second Chances | Robust support makes all the difference during an unplanned pregnancy. (December 17, 2009)
Abortion Violence and American Democracy | The ironic relationship between the pro-life movement and its radical fringe. (June 3, 2009)
Battle Fatigue | Abortion opponents head into Obama presidency after big losses. (January 9, 2009)