Live Action is an anti-abortion extremist organization founded by Lila Rose in 2003 “with the goal to expose what abortion does to the preborn child.” After meeting James O’Keefe — the far-right extremist and founder of Project Veritas — in 2006, Rose and O’Keefe began undercover investigations into what she calls “the abortion industry,” orchestrating the first nationally televised exposé in 2008. The videos shown were heavily edited to portray Planned Parenthood employees as disobeying medical laws despite that not being the case. Rose was forced to take down the videos following a cease and desist from Planned Parenthood. That same year, Live Action was legally formed as a 501(c)(3). The organization continues to produce deceptively edited videos, using them for social media campaigns, broadcasting misinformation to its large audiences. Live Action maintains a non-profit status today and is based in Arlington, Virginia.
Live Action’s primary target is Planned Parenthood. Live Action agents have posed as potential patients, and conducted interviews with former abortion providers in order to get content for their highly manipulated productions. Live Action claims that its exposés of Planned Parenthood have led to significant defunding of the abortion-providing health care clinics, as well as congressional investigations into the organization. Live Action also wrongly alleges that its investigations link Planned Parenthood to sex trafficking, child sex abuse, infanticide, and medical malpractice. In addition to its so-called reporting, Live Action compiles resources about abortion procedures, and distorts them in an effort to fearmonger public opinion against abortion. One of its most popular projects consists of a video demonstrating dilation and evacuation (D&E), which is full of intentional misinformation about the frequency of abortions that take place in the third trimester, as well as lies about the safety of D&E. Live Action — and its sibling organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) — have long been discredited for the heavily edited and misrepresentative nature of their video productions.
However, since its inception, Live Action has grown and maintained a massive social media reach, making it a key player in the anti-abortion movement. Live Action social media accounts have millions of followers and the organization and its employees have a hand in influencing anti-abortion policy.
Live Action Targets Abortion Providers In Undercover Investigations, And Releases Highly Edited Videos And Reports Misrepresenting The Care They Provide.
Some of Live Action’s Highlighted Misinformation Campaigns Include:
- Live Action Slanders Planned Parenthood As Engaging In The Cover Up Of Child Sex Abuse. “Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up Of Child Sex Abuse. America is calling for an end to sexual abuse at every level, in every institution. Live Action presents a seven-part docuseries and an investigative report documenting the systemic cover-up of child sexual abuse at America’s biggest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, required by law to report suspected abuse, has ignored victims’ pleas for help, performed abortions on victims as young as 12 years old, and returned them back to their abusers. Planned Parenthood’s negligence is enabling abuse and aiding abusers.” [Live Action, 5/2018]
- Live Action Misrepresents Planned Parenthood’s Commitment To Comprehensive Sex Education. “The motto at Planned Parenthood seems to be sex with no strings attached. Teens are told that they can have sex wherever, whenever, and with whomever – and anything goes, as long as it’s consensual and contracepted. In Planned Parenthood facilities across the country, clinicians advised Live Action investigators, whom they believed were underage, how to experiment with dangerous sexual practices and illegally visit sex shops. Videos document the abortion chain’s questionable and risky sexual advice for boys and girls, funded by American taxpayers.” [Live Action, Accessed 1/31/22]
- Live Action Confuses Its Own Beliefs About Fetal Development And Personhood As Scientific Fact. “In a multi-state undercover investigation, Live Action documented Planned Parenthood’s use of unscientific and fabricated medical information to convince women to have abortions. … Leading embryologists have denounced Planned Parenthood’s conduct caught on tape as ‘absurd and scientifically erroneous.’” [Live Action, Accessed 1/31/22]
- Live Action Claims That Planned Parenthood Lies About Risks Associated With Abortion, When, In Reality, Live Action Does Just That. “Planned Parenthood lies about abortion risks. A number of undercover phone calls exposes Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain, lying to women about abortion risks and recent medical emergencies at its abortion facilities. This investigation exposes not only how unsafe Planned Parenthood facilities can be for women, but also how dishonest and untrustworthy Planned Parenthood is to the very women it claims to serve.” [Live Action, Accessed 1/31/22]
One Of Live Action’s Most Popular Campaigns Purports To Describe A D&E Abortion, But Is Full Of Misinformation And Intentionally Fearmongering Language. “After the amniotic fluid is removed, the abortionist uses a sopher clamp – a grasping instrument with rows of sharp ‘teeth’ – to grasp and pull the baby’s arms and legs, tearing the limbs from the child’s body. The abortionist continues to grasp intestines, spine, heart, lungs, and any other limbs or body parts. The most difficult part of the procedure is usually finding, grasping and crushing the baby’s head. … For the woman, this procedure carries a significant immediate risk of major complications.” [Abortion Procedures, Accessed 1/31/22]
Planned Parenthood Had To Notify The FBI Of An Undercover Live Action Agent Alleging To Engage In Sex Trafficking Showing Up At Planned Parenthood Clinics Across The Country. “Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the United States, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man alleging to be a sex trafficker, but who may be involved in a ploy to trap clinic workers.. … According to [Planned Parenthood Vice President for Communications Stuart] Schear, Planned Parenthood’s findings have revealed that the man has ties to Live Action, an anti-abortion group that has conducted previous undercover projects aimed at discrediting Planned Parenthood, which has become a constant target for protesters because of its role in providing abortions. Lila Rose, Live Action’s founder and president, described Planned Parenthood’s allegations as ‘very interesting.’ Rose declined to confirm or deny that the visits were part of a Live Action operation, but did indicate in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that some type of undercover videotape project was in the works.” [CBS News, 1/25/11]
A Congressional Investigation Confirmed That Videos Produced By CMP — Basically A Front For Live Action — Were Highly Edited And Inaccurate. “Planned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its clinics an analysis it commissioned concluding that ‘manipulation’ of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry.” [The New York Times, 8/27/15]
Live Action Founder And President Lila Rose Has Compared Abortion To American Slavery, The Holocaust, And The Rwandan Genocide.
In Now-Deleted Facebook Posts, Lila Rose Co-Opted The Language Of Social Justice To Compare Abortion To Slavery And The Holocaust. “Rose’s work is centered around fighting against abortion, which she has called ‘the greatest human rights abuse in America.’ Previously, Rose has compared abortion to slavery and the Holocaust, writing on Facebook that all three “were … fueled by perpetrators declaring their innocent victims ‘not people.’” Her concern with racial justice seems to begin and end with denying abortions to people in need.” [Colorado Times Recorder, 6/17/21]
Lila Rose Tweeted That Abortion Is A “Human Rights Abuse” Just Like “The Holocaust, American Slavery, And The Rwandan Genocide.” “The Holocaust, American slavery, The Rwandan genocide. These human rights abuses were always preceded by dehumanizing the victims. People seeing other people as inferior & less than human. When adults see babies in the womb as inferior, we will find ways to justify their deaths.” [Twitter, 1/30/19]
Live Action Advocates For Unproven And Potentially Dangerous “Abortion Pill Reversal.”
Live Action Propagates Misinformation About Medication Abortion, Including Unproven “Abortion Pill Reversal,” Citing Anti-Abortion Groups American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and Heartbeat International-Backed Abortion Pill Rescue Network. “A treatment is available that could reverse the effects of the first abortion pill, Mifepristone, and potentially save the life of the preborn child. At the core of the abortion pill reversal is a regimen of progesterone, a necessary and natural pregnancy hormone required to sustain life. The progesterone regimen is designed to outcompete the progesterone-blocking effects of Mifepristone and help the preborn baby survive. According to the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), ‘By giving a woman progesterone, the Mifeprex abortion can be stopped and the chances of the baby surviving increase from 25% (the survival rate without natural progesterone) to 68% (the average survival rate after giving natural progesterone).’ *Go to reverseabortionpill.com if you are in need of help.” [Live Action, Accessed 1/31/22]
Live Action Ran A $100,000-Plus Facebook Ad Campaign Promoting So-Called “Abortion Pill Reversal.” … “Luckily for [Rebekah] Hagan, there was a revolutionary new procedure that could stop the effects of medication abortion in its tracks and save the life of a growing fetus. And it could be obtained by calling a single hotline. At least, that’s what dozens of ads on Facebook would like you to think. Hagan is one of the faces of a $100,000-plus ad campaign run by anti-abortion organization Live Action, which advertises so-called “abortion reversal” as an effective means of reversing a medication abortion. In reality, the “method” is an unproven, potentially dangerous intervention that has never been approved by the FDA. The only independent study on it was halted after a quarter of the participants were hospitalized.” [The Daily Beast, 9/15/21]
…However, Google Removed The Ad From The Search Engine As The Company Does “Not Allow Ads That Promote Harmful Health Claims.” “Google on Wednesday confirmed that the tech company had blocked an abortion pill reversal (APR) ad put out by the anti-abortion group Live Action. That’s while a spokesperson for the search engine said it had reinstated the advocacy organization’s ad featuring a video about human development in the womb on Tuesday afternoon. ‘Under our ads policies, we do not allow ads that promote harmful health claims,’ Google spokesperson Christa Muldoon told Newsweek in an email. ‘This includes claims bout the abortion reversal pill’s safety.’” [Newsweek, 9/15/21]
Live Action Has Been Suspended Or Banned From Several Social Media Platforms For Spreading Conspiracies And Misinformation, And For Posting Graphic Fearmongering Content
Live Action Is Permanently Banned From Pinterest For “Spreading Misinformation And Conspiracies.” “Pinterest has permanently banned Live Action, the influential anti-abortion group that published videos claiming Planned Parenthood harvested and sold fetal body parts, for spreading misinformation and conspiracies. … [Live Action Director of External Affairs Alison] Centofante said Pinterest permanently suspended the group for ‘spreading harmful misinformation, [which] includes medical misinformation and conspiracies that turn individuals and facilities into targets for harassment or violence,’ according to a letter from the social media company.” [BuzzFeed News, 6/11/19]
Twitter Rejected Live Action Advertisements For Containing Misleading And Fearmongering Images That Did Not Adhere To Community Guidelines. “In a letter to Twitter, attorneys for Live Action, known for its undercover investigations of abortion clinics, allege the social media platform wrongly applied its policies to censor advertisements that contain ultrasound images of fetuses, promote or link to its secret recordings, and oppose federal funding of Planned Parenthood. … A Twitter spokeswoman denied that the company censors advertisers based on their political viewpoints. … But Twitter does set a higher bar for advertisers than regular users when it comes to the type of content it will promote. The spokeswoman said the company has clear, transparent rules that all advertisers must follow. Twitter’s extensive advertising policy states that ads must be honest and accurate. The guidelines prohibit advertisers from misleading people with sensationalized language and deceptive claims. And Twitter bars content that could offend or shock people, among other directives.” [Washington Post, 9/22/17]
Facebook Correctly Fact Checked Two Inaccurate Live Action Videos On The Platform, Before Reversing The Fact Check Only To Quell Republican Complaints. “‘Four Republican senators sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this morning, criticizing the social-media platform’s recent ‘fact check’ of pro-life organization Live Action. … At the end of last month, Facebook notified Live Action that fact-checkers had given a ‘false’ rating to two videos shared by the group’s president Lila Rose.’ The reviewers’ rationale for labeling the post in question false is straightforward. In the video under review, Rose says ‘abortion is never medically necessary.’ In fact, it sometimes is.” [The Verge, 9/12/19]
Despite These Bans, Live Action Maintains Large And Active Presences Across Several Other Social Media Platforms
On Facebook, Live Action Has Over 2.7 Million Likes And Over 3 Million Followers, While Lila Rose Also Maintains Nearly 1 Million Followers. [Live Action Facebook, Accessed 1/31/22; Lila Rose Facebook, Accessed 1/31/22]
On YouTube, Live Action Has Over 100,000 Subscribers. [Live Action YouTube, Accessed 1/31/22]
Lila Rose Has Worked With Anti-Abortion Legislators To Influence Policy
Lila Rose Partnered With U.S. Senator Ted Cruz In An Op-Ed Rife With Misinformation To Urge The FDA To Pull Mifeprex — Used For Medication Abortion Care— Off The Market. “The Mifeprex regimen has unleashed horrors on America’s women and children while providing no medical benefit. Killing innocent children, endangering mothers, and abusing the health-care system to do harm is tragic. And as long as this deadly drug remains on the U.S. market, it will pose a serious health risk. Pregnancy is not a disease and abortion is not health care. The abortion pill is not medicine. No child deserves to be killed by a drug, and pregnant women deserve better. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn should acknowledge the subversion of the abortion industry and its allies, which are using a national pandemic to instigate abortion expansions that could remain long after the pandemic is over. The FDA should protect the public health of Americans and pull this lethal drug, Mifeprex and its approved generics, from the market immediately.” [National Review, 8/10/20]
Lila Rose And Live Action Worked With Members Of Congress To Defund Planned Parenthood. “Since 2007, Live Action has been proactive in uncovering the illicit activity of Planned Parenthood and is heading the initiative to defund this morally bankrupt program. Last week, it was an honor to join many of my colleagues to defend the most vulnerable among us and she a light on the actions of Planned Parenthood – from profiting off the sale of baby body parts to covering up abuse and human trafficking.” [U.S. Representative Jody Hice, 2/6/17]
Live Action Has Filed Anti-Abortion Amicus Briefs In High-Profile Supreme Court Cases
Live Action Filed An Amicus Brief In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Citing Its Own Misinformation About Abortion Safety. “Brief of Live Action Amicus Curiae In Support Of Respondents. … Live Action’s video footage shows facility workers repeatedly lying to women about: how developed their babies are and whether or not the preborn can feel pain during an abortion … and the potential complications of abortion procedures … Live Action’s investigations revealed examples of these types of violations at multiple facilities, fairly demonstrating repeated questionable and unethical conduct. Such behavior shows that the abortion industry regularly puts its own interests above those of its patients as well as the law. When it comes to health and safety standards, these practices can have literally deadly consequences.” [SCOTUSBlog, 2/15/16]
Melinda Thybault, Founder Of The Moral Outcry Petition, Cited Live Action In Her Anti-Abortion Amicus Brief In June Medical Services LLC v. Russo. “‘Pathologist Traumatized After Seeing 3 Pound Aborted Baby With Expression of ‘Horror’ on His Face,’ Sarah Terzo, Live Action, March 26, 2017.’” [SCOTUSBlog, 7/20/20]
A Coalition Of Anti-Abortion Jewish Organizations Cited Live Action As A Central Authority In Their Anti-Abortion Amicus Brief In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “Live Action Simulated Abortion Procedure Videos. … Behind Closed Doors. LiveAction.org.” [SCOTUSBlog, 7/21/22]
Legal & Financial
Live Action Is Incorporated In Arlington, Virginia, And Nearly Doubled Its Total Revenue Between 2018 And 2019.