by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director
It was a child’s curiosity that started it all. She was exploring her parents’ bookshelves when one particular worn-out book caught her eye. Paging through, she was horrified at what she saw. She quickly shut the book, but compelled by an instinct to better understand what she had seen, she opened it again. She stared in disbelief and profound sadness, thinking of her own baby sister’s ultrasound picture. How could this be?
That moment was the genesis of Lila Rose’s pro-life advocacy. That book was A Handbook on Abortion by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Wilke, founders of the National Right to Life. That child, even though just nine years old, felt called to do something. That something would eventually evolve into Live Action, an influential pro-life media and news organization that Lila founded when she was just 15 years old.
In her book Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World, Lila Rose details her journey from a little girl who wanted to save babies to being the president of a pro-life nonprofit that has worldwide reach. Reflecting on learning about abortion at a young age and the impact it had on her, Lila writes, “Deep grief is often the starting point for righting an injustice.”
Motivated to make a difference, Lila raised money for pregnancy resource centers, prayed outside abortion facilities, and started a pro-life club at her school. Her intention was always to take the next small step to help women and to teach others about abortion.
One small step led to another, however, and Lila’s advocacy grew. In college, she expanded the pro-life presence on the liberal campus of UCLA and even went undercover into Planned Parenthood facilities to investigate whether they were complying with the law.
What would enable a young woman to take such risks and face certain adversity? Lila was open to learning from mentors who helped her develop skills in apologetics, fundraising, public speaking, and more. She found her heroes in Mother Teresa, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Corrie Ten Boom, people who exemplified courage and self-sacrifice. As she matured and delved deeper into the abortion battleground, Lila recognized the need to remain close to God. She deepened her prayer life and sought spiritual direction. All of these were integral to staying centered while maintaining her mission.
While her journey to becoming a “pro-life rock star” is itself a compelling story, it is perhaps her transparency that readers might find most surprising in this book. She openly acknowledges her fears, insecurities, and personal battles, including struggles with depression, an eating disorder, cutting, and complex family issues.
Many may know only a picture-perfect version of Lila from social media or public appearances, but her book candidly discloses her own vulnerabilities. Like all of us, she has experienced suffering. She credits her pro-life advocacy for helping her heal and thrive because she found a cause bigger than herself, one in which she can serve others.
She uses her earned wisdom to offer simple but sage advice to anyone fighting for a cause close to their heart. The chapter titles reflect lessons learned and wise counsel: Know Your Gifts, Prepare to Stand Alone, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Be Teachable, etc. Without being preachy, Lila gives advice that is realistic and encouraging.
Now a wife and mother, Lila’s passion for life is stronger than ever. She urges everyone, whatever their background, to get involved in the pro-life movement. “The fight needs all of us, no matter our wounds or mistakes or imperfections…Together we can rebuild the broken foundations, restore what has been devastated, and renew our wounded world. Together we can celebrate the new beginning.”