Who Started This Fight?
Goldberg, Michelle, Newsweek
Byline: Michelle Goldberg
The Planned Parenthood flap was a triumph for conservative mischief-maker Lila Rose. The woman who lit the fuse.
Last week, when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced it would stop funding Planned Parenthood, it seemed an enormous victory for the 23-year-old Lila Rose, who has been waging a long media war against the country's largest abortion and family-planning provider. Initially, the Komen foundation said it was ending grants to Planned Parenthood because of a new policy against supporting groups under government investigation. The only grantee affected by the new policy was Planned Parenthood, which is under investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida congressman who says his inquiry was inspired by Rose's undercover videos.
Ultimately, of course, Komen reversed its decision. Still, the incident highlighted how effective Rose has been in providing pretexts for those who have long sought to take Planned Parenthood down.
An anti-abortion activist from a young age, Rose met the now-notorious conservative propagandist James O'Keefe when she was a freshman at UCLA, and the two began working together. In one of her first stings, she visited two Los Angeles Planned Parenthoods with a hidden camera, posing as a 15-year-old girl who'd been impregnated by a 23-year-old man. Her goal was to show that the clinics weren't following the law in reporting statutory rape, and she succeeded; in both cases, when she asked for help avoiding police involvement, they complied. "I can say 16?" she asked one clinic worker, who replied, "Well, just figure out a birth date that works." Planned Parenthood condemned its employees' actions, but it also threatened to sue Rose, turning her and the organization she founded, Live Action, into conservative causes celebres.
In 2008 the Gerard Health Foundation awarded Rose $50,000, funding that enabled her to launch a new round of investigations. "I see Lila as the Upton Sinclair of her generation, getting in and doing undercover investigative work that exposes the dark underbelly of the abortion industry," says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.
But while Rose had indeed caught some Planned Parenthood employees bending the law, some of her work, like that of her ally O'Keefe, is misleading. …