When Lila Rose announced that she was a former home-schooler, she received a roar of applause from the thousands of Liberty University undergrads who filled the Vines Stadium for Friday morning's convocation, where Rose kicked off this year's Awakening 2011, a conference for faith-based leaders sponsored by the Freedom Federation and held at the Lynchburg, Va.,-based university.
Her image spread over two giant screens hung above the stage, 22-year-old Rose told the students that abortion has reached a state of emergency in this country.
"Every single day that we get up, there are over 3,400 lives that are legally cruelly ended in this country," Rose said.
Rose, who recently graduated from the University of California - Los Angeles with a history degree, announced that she's now doing anti-abortion-rights work "full-full time."
For the first time in four years after working for Live Action, which she founded, Rose said she is finally taking home a salary.
Relating a conversation she once had in a church with a Planned Parenthood Federation of America board member, who apparently chastised Rose for using the term "pro-abortion" rather than "pro-choice," Rose said: "She told me she had dedicated her life to Planned Parenthood in her 20s. ... She thought she was advocating for the rights of women. Really, she was advocating for the murder of the millions of tiny little women in the womb and the millions of tiny little men.
Rose told the story of how she decided to dedicate her life to ending legal abortion in America -- which in large part has involved producing undercover videos that condemn Planned Parenthood -- at the age of 9, after viewing "shocking" images of a 10-week-old aborted fetus from a book in her parent's library.
"Can there be anything worse than abortion?" she said. "I will fight for another cause if someone can tell me there is a human rights issue that is greater than abortion."
After showing the beginning of Live Action's famous sex-trafficking sting video on Planned Parenthood -- which provoked gasps and head-shakes from the undergrads, many of whom appeared to be unfamiliar with the video -- Rose asked the students to join her side of the abortion debate.
"Our side is the winning side," she said. "It's the side of life."
Rose, who explained that she participated in home school debate as a youth, is considering attending law school, and Liberty University is trying to bring Rose on to their campus.
When he introduced Rose, dean Matthew Staver informed the stadium that the 22-year-old was single, and later in the day told a room full faith-based leaders invited to an exclusive luncheon headlined by Newt Gingrich: "Tell Lila to come to Liberty University." At another point during his master of ceremony duties, as Staver was describing the university and its merits, he mentioned the school of law, and then gave the aside: "which for Lila Rose is the best law school."
Rose told The American Independent that if she decides to pursue a law degree, Liberty University is among her top picks.
Ever since Rose founded Live Action four years ago, she's been studying the law -- especially when it comes to recording laws, to make sure her group avoids lawsuit entanglements for its hidden-camera sting operations on Planned Parenthood.
Rose said that right off the bat the group identified the 35 states that abide by one-party consent laws. Acknowledging that trespassing issues were "questionable," Rose said it's never come up for her group and explained that Live Action consults a legal team to analyze all of their projects. (During our conversation, an attorney from the Liberty Counsel handed Rose his business card and told her to call if they ever needed help.)
The only time Live Action was threatened with a suit, Rose said, was after their very first YouTube video, when she entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Jose, Calif., and posed as a 15-year-old who claimed to have been impregnated by an older man. She received a personal email from the CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles threatening to sue Live Action for recording private conversations, though Rose said the threat never amounted to anything.
Asked why the evidence Live Action exposes on its website is all manufactured evidence -- actors creating hypothetical scenarios, Rose retorted: "Should we use real abuse victims?"
She explained that her organization functions much like the corporate industry's "secret shoppers" and points to instances where Planned Parenthood clinics have blatantly skirted mandatory reporting laws among other offenses.
But what about actual evidence that's not staged or manufactured?
"There are real court cases out there of abuse and of sex traffic victims," Rose said. "Our hope is to add to that real-life testimony"