Every human life is worth fighting for, Lila Rose - the 24-year-old founder of the pro-life group "Live Action" - told a gathering of Vitae Society supporters this week.
In an effort to raise $500,000 to support the society's anti-abortion campaign, several hundred Mid-Missourians attended a luncheon at the Capital Plaza Hotel on Monday. More were expected to attend a dinner event later in the evening.
An outspoken critic of Planned Parenthood, Rose is the oldest daughter in a family with eight children and a graduate from the University of California-Los Angeles. In the fall of 2006 - in order to document what she feels is a
"partnership" between abortion providers and sexual abusers - she devised a plan to wear secret a video camera and a recording device into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rose, who was 18, posed as a 15-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a 23-year-old man. She said her story should have immediately triggered the state of California's mandated reporter law. Instead of having her situation reported to the authorities, she was encouraged to lie about her age and was assured her privacy would be protected, she said.
Her advocacy has garnered her nationwide attention.
She said Planned Parenthood touts itself as a champion of women's rights. "The truth is they don't care about the dignity and protection of women," she decried.
Rose said she was inspired to work on behalf of the pro-life movement when, as a 9-year-old, she first saw images of fetuses aborted in their first trimester.
Both shocked and horrified by what she saw, she went to her mother and asked: "Is this real? Is this really happening?"
Her mother replied: "Yes, and that's abortion."
Rose told the group gathered in Jefferson City: "Images are so powerful. They speak to the heart in a way nothing else can," she said.
She noted she came to understand that "even though I had been so safe and protected, I learned there were other children who were not. God loved each one of us into existence and each precious child is a sign of his love, and a gift to the world."
She asked: "What really is the value and worth of every human being? Every life is worth fighting for. All of us are invaluable."
Stacey Kromer, vice president for the Vitae Caring Foundation, talked about the organization's advertising campaigns and outreach programs. She said Rose's work is "remarkable" and exhorted listeners to follow her example by supporting the cause with donations, noting the monetary support is critical to Vitae's mission.
"We admire you for your youth and courage," Kromer told Rose as she left the podium.