Lila Rose is a pro-life activist infamous and notorious for her dishonesty and willingness to use any immoral tactic possible to further her cause. In 2006 she and a friend began conducting so-called “sting” operations at Planned Parenthood clinics posing as abortion-seeking 13-year-olds impregnated by adult men in order to try to entrap clinic counselours into saying things that made it look like they are okay with letting statutory rape go unreported. The sessions are secretly taped, whereupon Rose cherry picks the ones where something out of line is said and edits the juiciest parts into “exposé” videos that she posts on YouTube; it is discussed here. Here is the wingnut mythology Rose’s actions belong to; and yes, it is pretty much the kind of thing you find on whale.to. According to herself, she is battling the “lie of Satan” that is (apparently) Planned Parenthood – “he [Satan and/or Planned Parenthood] doesn’t want our nation to be a nation under God.”
In 2006, she collaborated with the even more infamous conservative provocateur James O’Keefe, recording calls O’Keefe made to Planned Parenthood clinics posing as a racist interested in making a donation “specifically for the abortions of African-American babies”, intending to find “evidence” for the notion that Planned Parenthood (“the single most evil organization in human history”) was founded by Margaret Sanger, an advocate of eugenics (true), with the intent of wiping out the black race (false). Though her strikingly consistent failures to uncover Planned Parenthood’s involvement in illegal activities should, if Rose were rational, suggest to her that her conspiracy theories may be wrong, it is not particularly surprising that it doesn’t.*
Despite the evident failures (repeatedly and consistently) of her sting operations Rose has managed to raise to a position of some influence in the wingnut movement (she contributed to the 2012 Values Voter Summit, for instance), and has been given ample opportunities to make her positions clear. Here, for instance, she equates the anti-abortion movement with the women’s rights movements and the revolutionary war (as well as to ending Nazism and slavery and – never one to miss an opportunity to compare herself to anyone who gets a positive press at any moment – Malala Yousafzai), and has claimed that abortion providers are just as bad as the Taliban (a strikingly inept analogy). Currently she leads the organization Live Action, which has for instance endorsed the actions of cult leader Jered Ragon.
She has also been involved in protesting Obamacare since it is a tyrannical violation of religious freedom, or something.
Diagnosis: Conspiracy theories fuelled by religious fundamentalism are never innocuous, but Rose’s version is particularly insidious given her utterly dishonest – and, one suspects, rather effective – tactics. Dangerous.
*Note: Rose is indicted here for her conspiracy theories, not her opposition to abortion. Although the author personally thinks abortion is morally justifiable (and at least that the legality of abortion is morally justifiable), based for instance on arguments along the lines of those presented in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous article, we recognize that taking a different position is itself far from crazy. That said, there is no doubt that the so-called prolife movement is also riddled with blathering lunatics, and Rose is a fine example.