On Thursday, April 8, University of Chicago Students for Life welcomed Lila Rose to speak before members of the university community.
Rose is a pro-life writer, speaker, activist, and founder of Live Action, a national pro-life organization. Since she started Live Action in her living room when she was fifteen years old, Rose has had her investigative reporting featured in The Atlantic, the Washington Post, ABC Nightline, and CBS, among others. Her book, “Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World” is forthcoming.
Over 80 attendees participated in Rose’s virtual talk, which was entitled “Abortion: The Ultimate Exploitation of Women.” After her talk, Rose answered a wide range of audience questions. Some attendees were fans of Rose. Others came in order to challenge her assertions. Rose welcomed them all.
Rose presented a detailed argument, which she broadly summarized as follows:
“Abortion kills. […] A human embryo and a human fetus are human lives. It’s always wrong to intentionally take their lives. Abortion, by its very nature, cannot be empowering. It is the exploitation of a child as well as a woman. And the women’s rights movement ultimately has been hijacked by the abortion movement […] Instead of truly being about advancing women, it is now about advancing abortion and the abortion industry.”
Rose views abortion as the greatest human rights abuse of our lifetime, and she urges individuals to empower each other by taking a stand. According to Rose, “A woman doesn’t walk into an abortion clinic feeling powerful. She walks into an abortion clinic, typically, because she feels powerless.”
Rose is a young mother herself, and she emphasizes the importance of institutions that support parents. Among other services, she advocates for better pregnancy and maternity leave, healthcare, and childcare. Rose also highlights the importance of both motherhood and fatherhood, placing special emphasis on the need for parents committed to long-term, loving relationships.
Most of the event’s attendees were college students, and Rose tailored her presentation to them. Rose went to UCLA, and she spoke from experience when acknowledging that many ambitious students view family life as less meaningful than the pursuit of a high-power career. However, Rose urged against acceptance of this view:
“We need to stop […] saying that somehow it’s either or, that somehow it’s either you have a family, and your dreams die, or you have to go pursue your dreams, and you can’t have a family. I know for me that having a family, that my husband, my son, that they ultimately are the greatest garden for my dreams […] they inspire and fuel my dreams and […] fighting for them is ultimately the most meaningful thing in my life.”
Rose thus believes that both motherhood and fatherhood are the most profound services that an individual may offer to the world.
Rose acknolwedges the difficulties inherent to proceeding with an unexpected pregnancy, but she confidently argues that abortion is never the answer. During the event’s Q&A, she promoted a zero-tolerance policy toward abortion.
Plan B is distinct from the abortion pill (RU-486), and Rose claims that we don’t have exact statistics on the effects of Plan B. However, Rose still views Plan B as “morally problematic” because she alleges that the medication is designed “to be able to cause a very early abortion, as well as [to] prevent fertilization.” This claim conflicts with Planned Parenthood’s assertion to the contrary.
According to Rose, women are often taken to abortion clinics by their rapists and abusers, making abortion a means through which violent criminals may continue to exploit their female victims. Rose vocally condemns sexual violence, and argues that such violence does not justify abortion:
“Sexual violence is horrrific. Pregnancy after sexual violence for some women is incredibly scary and also horrrific. I mean it’s not something that they signed up for […] but we have to look at this holistically. […] We do not even give the death penalty to rapists […] so why would we permit the death penalty for the children conceived in rape?”
There were over 70 audience questions submitted during the talk and, given the event’s time limits, attendees were unable to pose follow-ups to the few questions Rose had time to address.
Rose’s talk comes almost two years after a large protest for and against a UChicago College Council (CC) bill on funding abortions. The bill “would have prohibited the expenditure of any CC–authorized funds toward abortion, except in cases where rape, incest, or the danger of death of the pregnant person was involved.”
During the protest, women held homemade signs that said “Public Cervix announcement: my body, my choice” and “access to abortion saves lives.” The bill to prohibit select abortion funding ultimately failed, thereby demonstrating the 2019 College Council’s general approval of abortions.
In response to pro-choice advocates, Rose argues that abortion is not a moral means through which to pursue personal advancement:
“Enough is enough. We do not accept the killing of another innocent human life as a path to advancement. We must do better. We demand that we do better. It’s always wrong to dismember an innocent human life. It cripples our ability for true advancement when we take the shortcut of killing. [We must] finally recognize that this is the greatest human rights abuse of our day, the most people being killed, the most people deprived of their most fundamental human right, all in the name of women.”
Rose believes that women are exploited as “mascots of abortion,” and that this is wrong. She rejects the racism and eugenics of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion chain. And she speaks across the country, in an attempt to spread her message to those who disagree.
*Evita Duffy, the Chicago Thinker’s managing editor, was one of the moderators of Lila Rose’s talk. The Chicago Thinker, however, did not itself sponsor or organize the event.