Legal charges are pending against a male Planned Parenthood escort who struck pro-life activist Lila Rose on the hands on Thursday outside an abortion clinic. She warned that the surprising attack should not help create a “double standard” that hinders clinic protesters’ free speech rights.
Rose, the president of Live Action Films who has led undercover investigations into the abortion provider, was not injured in the attack.
She was on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood affiliate in San Jose, California with a group of about 20 students and three adults to pray and provide information to women who might be open to alternatives to abortion, a statement from Live Action says.
Shortly before noon on Thursday, she interacted with a uniformed male Planned Parenthood escort.
According to Rose, she spoke to the escort from the public sidewalk and asked him if he was familiar with the abortion procedure.
The escort then approached her rapidly from the Planned Parenthood parking lot and said, “You idiot. You've caused so much trouble. You piece of crap."
Rose asked if she could show him a picture of what abortion “really does to a baby.” The escort then struck Rose on the hand, knocking literature and a Bible to the ground.
According to Live Action Films, the police report said Rose stepped further back on the sidewalk and the escort stepped toward her.
He was visibly shaking and said “It’s a woman’s choice!”
To this, Rose responded “What about the baby’s choice?”
The escort said “It’s not a baby!” and turned and walked away.
Police were called and interviewed Rose and several witnesses. She suffered no injuries in the attack, but charges of assault and battery are pending.
In a Friday e-mail Rose told CNA that she was “very surprised” at what happened. She said the escort appeared to recognize her, which has not happened before at a clinic.
“Unborn children face much, much worse...they are violently denied their very lives, and they are totally defenseless,” she added.
Rose emphasized that pro-lifers have the right to free speech on public sidewalks.
“If this right is infringed upon by threatening physical contact, the law must intervene and the guilty party must accept the consequences.”
Saying that pro-life sidewalk counselors are subjected to “the most rigorous scrutiny,” she warned that a double standard could be created if threatening physical contact against sidewalk counselors is allowed.
Rose also reported “good news”: a woman who thought she was pregnant and was considering abortion turned around. One of the parents and their daughter at the clinic then drove the woman and her friend to a crisis pregnancy center.
She told CNA that her organization has not heard anything from Planned Parenthood.
Live Action in a statement said it maintains a “strong commitment to non-violent public discourse.”
“We expect Planned Parenthood will respond to their escort's attack by publicly disavowing the use of violence,” the statement said.