Lila Rose’s Raise and The Failure to End Child Sacrifice

There are a lot of reasons to question the big, secular pro-life organizations.

From their opposition to legislation that would have ended abortion in Louisiana two years ago, to the efforts of Texas Right to Life to smear abolitionist candidate (David Lowe) in a Texas State House election in the same year, to the opposition of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission to the Southern Baptist Convention abolish abortion resolution—the biggest enemy to ending abortion has NOT been the pro-choice lobby. The most severe opposition has come from the big money pro-life organizations.  This opposition has been well documented in the recent film, The Fatal Flaw, a new film from Apologia Studios.

As if that is not enough to turn you a little green around the gills, consider the grift of the leadership of the leading pro-life organizations. To grift is to illicitly obtain money or some other advantage, and unfortunately the Pro-Life Movement certainly fits this description.

You might object that “grift” is too strong of a term and that this claim overstates my case, since the donors presumably can easily find all of the information presented in this article. I will concede the point that using the term is a bit of hyperbole. In any case, this is a grift because donors are placing confidence in organizations like Live Action to demonstrate some degree of success in at least reducing the number of abortions, which they claim is their final objective.  The fact that they have failed miserably ought to be reflected in their salaries, their raises or lack thereof, and their employment statuses.

The most recent example comes in the form of the raise that Live Action gave to Lila Rose, their founder and president two years ago.  The Form 990 filed by Live Action for 2022 reveals that she received a $45,000 raise. Her salary, in 2021, was $236,000 but in 2022 she received $281,213.  In 2017 she was paid $134,000.  Her salary has more than doubled in five years.

A note about the numbers.

On the 990 there are three columns that record the salaries of the executives for all the organizations named. There is a salary from the organization and then other salaries that are reported from affiliated organizations, representing different donation pools. For this article, I am totaling all three columns to reflect the annual salary.  I am not going to footnote each salary since this would be redundant.

Devin Sena, who blocked me from Live Action’s Instagram account during this writing, and who earns $124,808 as the social media director for Live Action has said that the leadership of pro-life organizations could make more money in the business world.  This is from a Facebook thread regarding an article by Nick Reynosa, formerly of Students for Life, concerning Nathan and Emily Berning, the founders of Let Them Live.  Nick is the one who put me on the scent for this story.

This is the philosophy behind the salaries that I am writing about here. The question is whether this philosophy is “winning the cultural battle.”

Stated Goals Versus Reality

The stated objective of Live Action, according to the 990 filed with the IRS, is, “Live Action exists to defend the human rights of the most vulnerable: preborn children.”

Raises are voted to executives based on job performance, not based on good intentions. If the chief executive of Disney, Bob Iger, receives a raise, his increased salary and benefits would not come because he has done such a great job at wanting to succeed. No, it will be because he has succeeded at the mission which is making money.

What happened in 2022 that would warrant such a raise for Lila Rose? How did Lila Rose succeed at “defending the rights of the unborn” in 2022? 

The number of surgical abortions increased in 2023 to 987,576 in the United States, not counting self-managed chemical abortions carried out in homes rather than physical abortion clinics. In 2017, there were 862,000 surgical abortions, marking an overall gain of 125,576 abortions as of the year following the Dobbs decision.

Live Action was one of several pro-life groups to push for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. They also prided themselves on being a major media source, informing the Pro-Life Movement and influencing Republican politics. Former President Donald J. Trump is credited with placing the Supreme Court justices on the bench that overturned Roe. However, as recently as January 10, 2024, during a Fox News town hall event, Trump stated that the reason why Republicans have failed in recent elections is because they have focused TOO MUCH on abortion. Are the unborn being defended by their work? Trump said,

"If you talk five or six weeks, a lot of women don't know if they're pregnant ... This has been tearing the country apart for 50 years, nobody's been able to do anything," Trump said. "We're going to come up with something that people want and people like," he claimed, echoing what he told NBC News in an interview last year when he insisted that "I would sit down with both sides and I'd negotiate something.”

Live Action took in $13.5 million in 2022. Of that amount, $3.8 million was spent on all salaries at the organization. These salaries include those of Josef Lipp (COO) $214,266, Gabriel Renfro (VP of Content) $183,726, Devin Sena (already mentioned), Kimberly Bird (VP of External Relations) $171,435 and Noah Brandt (VP of Communications) $164,687. 

The organizations like Live Action, Students for Life, National Right to Life, March for Life, etc., could not keep President Trump firmly in their camp after he was credited with ending Roe despite all their, “design, creativity, staff, leadership, influence, experts, talent, and advertising budgets.” They could not consistently reduce the number of abortions annually, much less end them after the overturn of Roe.

Bear in mind that Abby Johnson, founder and director of And Then There Were None, was on the platform with former President Trump on January 6th when Trump was accused of an insurrection. Access and influence have not had the desired effect.

The Republican Party had a meeting of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to reconsider the label, “pro-life.” In September 2023 in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, a super PAC head showed lawmakers polling data on the pro-life issue and suggested that the term “no longer resonated with pro-lifers.” I happen to agree that the term has outlived its usefulness, but for far different reasons. 

Meanwhile, abortions are on the rise across the nation and the increase in self-managed abortions in states where the clinics have been closed is skyrocketing.

An Overview of Pro-Life Executive Salaries

The pro-life sub-culture encourages failure. Consider this list of pro-life executives and their salaries from the most recent sources. 

Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, made $168,267. One other executive at March for Life makes more than $100k. Mancini was a signer on the open letter that went to the legislators in Louisiana and across the nation on the eve of the vote to pass the abolition law two years ago. The legislators voted the abolition bill down.

Jeffrey Bradford, President of Human Coalition, made $218,396. Human Coalition has five other execs that make more than $100k per year, including one other who makes more than $200k.

Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony’s List made $438,830. She also signed the LA open letter.

Emily Midgette, Executive VP at Susan B. Anthony List, made $374,789 while actively opposing bills of abolition and equal protection and supporting a federal 15-week ban on abortion which keeps 92% of all surgical and 100% of all chemical abortions legal.

Charles Donovan, President of Charlotte Loizer Institute (a subsidiary of Susan B. Anthony List), made $257,398. 

William Valentine, VP of Political Affairs at Susan B. Anthony List, made $289,479 while actively opposing bills of abolition and equal protection and supporting a federal 15-week ban on abortion which keeps 92% of all surgical and 100% of all chemical abortions legal.

Marilyn Musgrave, VP of Government Affairs, and former Congresswoman at Susan B. Anthony List made $204,101 while actively opposing bills of abolition and equal protection and supporting a federal 15-week ban on abortion which keeps 92% of all surgical and 100% of all chemical abortions legal.

Jim and Elizabeth Graham, formerly of Texas Right to Life, made $558,185 in 2021. They worked 22 hours per week and fought to kill a bill of equal protection in Texas, leaving 100% of chemical abortions legal in Texas. It is worth noting here that John Seago, the new director of Texas Right to Life, made a more modest $117,181. Mr. Seago’s own opposition to bills that would provide equal protection for the life of the preborn is well known in Texas.

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy made $260,331 and fought to kill a bill of equal protection and abolition while supporting a 15-week ban that kept 92% of surgical abortions and 100% of chemical abortions legal in Arizona. Another executive at CAP makes more than $100k per year.

Carol Tobias of National Right to Life made only $55,620 while working five hours per week ($222.48 per hour). On an hourly basis, she is one of the highest paid pro-life execs in the nation. She opposed the bill of abolition and equal protection in Louisiana. NRTL has five other executives who make more than $100k per year.

Anthony de Stefano of Priests for Life made $221,267

Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life made $199,614.

Avelino Valonzo, Chief Operating Officer of Priest for Life made $206,838.

Danielle Malina Jones, Chief Financial Officer of Priests for Life made $225,562.

Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life made $198,468.

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life made $302,423. She has been an outspoken critic of abolition.

Tina Whittington of Students for Life of America made $201,234.

Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life made $276,590. 40 Days for Life has four other executives who make more than $100k, including one other in the $200k range and yet another in the $300k range.

Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None and the author of Unplanned made $100,965, a modest salary considering the competition. A call to her speaking agency reveals that her speaking fee can be as much as $15,000 per event.

Roland Warren of Care Net made $264,358

Mark Harrington of Created Equal (the dba for Reform America) made $116,769. Mark is an outspoken critic of abolitionism.

You might respond, “These executives are bringing in a lot of money for their respective orgs and their board of directors voted to pay them a certain amount. Mind your own business.”

Raising Money

It is true that they do a very good job at raising money. Let’s look at how much they brought in two years ago.

  • Live Action: $13.5 million.
  • Human Coalition: $25.6 million.
  • Susan B. Anthony List: $22.1 million.
  • Charlotte Loizer Institute: $9.8 million.
  • Texas Right to Life: $2 million
  • Students for Life: $13.6 million.
  • Center for Arizona Policy: $2.8 million.
  • National Right to Life: $3.9 million.
  • Priests for Life: $11.1 million.
  • Americans United for Life: $2.9 million
  • 40 Days for Life: $10.2 million.
  • Care Net: $916,031 (note that Roland Warren’s salary takes up 29% of the total revenue of Care Net).  
  • And Then There Were None: $2.8 million.
  • Created Equal: $2.5 million.

Life Awards Galas

As an example of the power of pro-life fundraising, Live Action does a series of Life Awards Galas that are expensive fundraisers on a scale that is surprising for a non-profit. They look more like the Oscar Awards than a fundraiser for activism.

For example, consider an event from two years ago, held at a beachfront Ritz Carlton hotel.

At this point, we should discuss the issue of “optics.” In popular parlance, according to Oxford Languages, it means…

It appears that Live Action is unaware of the issue of optics in a political context. After all, many of their guests are politicians.

Building organizations that oppose equal justice for ALL involved in abortion while claiming to defend the preborn is a contradiction at best. Profiting from that opposition is immoral. In this sense, the optic is the least of their problems. Their big problem is a holy God who hates injustice.

Mechanisms that Keep Abortion Legal

Pro-life organizations have been built that have created the mechanisms which have killed bills of abolition and equal protection across the United States. They rally activists to speak in favor of sinfully partial pro-life bills, oppose Biblical approaches to sidewalk ministry in front of the abortion clinics, oppose Biblical methodologies in crisis pregnancy centers, help write legislation, lobby politicians, and create media and platforms that spread a false narrative that assist to kill bills of abolition.

With these mechanisms, they create and spread the second victim of abortion narrative and use that narrative to kill abolition bills.  This narrative is debunked by abolitionists regularly and effectively. It is an urban myth.

What is an abolitionist? A summary of abolition is given below from the Abolitionists Rising website

Thanks to these mechanisms, executives of pro-life organizations appear on media outlets, conservative and liberal, promoting their narrative. Pro-life leaders are paid to advance the pro-life narrative in the halls of power and in the court of public opinion.

As they do, they tell donors that they intend to work to end, or at least reduce, abortion. With each media interview, each email procured by petition advertisements on social media, in their print mailings, and every public appearance they shape the thinking of millions of pro-lifers.

In the words of Pastor CR Cali, “A strong case could be made that the secular Pro-life establishment is responsible for some of the most impactful indoctrination through the laws it writes, supports and passes…By imposing victimhood on the perpetrator, they not only deny justice to the true victim, but expose the diminished value which they bestow on the preborn image bearer” (The Doctrine of Balaam. Columbus, GA: Wrath & Grace Publishing, 2019. 32-33).

What they have failed to do with all the money and influence is keep the Republican Party or the American public interested in abortion since the overturn of Roe. Far worse, they have failed to end abortion once the Constitutional right was removed. 

How Should They Be Paid?

They shouldn’t get these kinds of salaries. In the for-profit sector, they would be fired for failure to fulfill the mission of the company.

These organizations should start with a study of the Norman Statement on Abolition and adopt its principles.

The secular Pro-Life Movement tells us that the gospel is irrelevant to the abortion issue, that we can argue for life without mentioning the gospel. Abolitionists, on the other hand, “…recognize that the chief weapon we possess in the fight against abortion is the gospel. Abortion is sin and the only answer for sin is repentance and a saving faith in the in the finished work of Christ” (Abolish Human Abortion website, The Five Tenets of Abolitionism, 2013).

This is the way forward, post-Roe.

Grassroots Abolition Movement

There has been another movement that doesn’t get much attention. It is a movement of grassroots Christians and their families lobbying to pass bills that would criminalize abortion for all participants. A movement of volunteers who stand in front of abortion clinics, rescue babies, and help provide for their needs--often out of their own pockets. Believers who adopt children out of foster care and frozen embryos out of IVF clinics. Committed disciples of Jesus Christ have created documentaries, animated shorts, viral videos, podcasts, social media platforms, printed material, conferences, and outreaches. Small organizations of unpaid volunteers engage abortive women online and provide gift registries and financial support. Some have created principled, Gospel-centered, local church-based pregnancy resource centers. These believers have mobilized evangelical churches to engage in the effort. Very few are paid at all and those who are, are paid a very modest income.

Stills from Abolitionist: The Movie.

If you want to see what a movement like this looks like, from the perspective of people who have “boots on the ground”, be sure to check out Abolitionist: The Movie, which was released this year.

If highly paid professionals drive the narrative, it will never end. At least not until the preborn can either donate or vote.

Abolitionists watch as the paid professionals use the organizations they have built to not only profit personally but regulate how abortion may continue in the United States. Those of us who have paid dearly with our own time, money, and tears (if not threat of bloodshed) just want the professionals to get out of the way. They are slowing down the end of abortion. They oppose it.

Imagine what will happen if this grassroots movement continues to spread and the people of the United States demand equal justice for the lives of the preborn. Imagine a gospel-centered movement taking control and driving the narrative. Will it happen? That’s largely up to you, conscientious Christian. Join us.

“The World’s Cheapest Date”

The Unholy Alliance of the Republican Establishment and the Pro-Life Industry

- By Nick Reynosa

Nick would resign from Regional Coordinator as a conscientious objector to Students for Life’s strategy in opposing California Senate Bill 24 (SB24), which would provide publicly funded chemical abortion pills to California University Students. Nick, along with other Students for Life employees, were instructed that their main talking point against SB24 was to be “chemical abortions are dangerous to women’s health.” Nick informed the Students for Life leadership team that he would not use such a talking point because it showed a profoundly distorted sense of priorities. For example, at the time, annual chemical abortions in the United States numbered 456,000; while on average about one woman in the United States died from the chemical abortion pill per year. Additionally, Nick expressed his view that, “the safety of abortion is irrelevant to the morality of abortion.” Nick continued that even if abortion “hurt no women” it would “still be wrong” because “abortion is not wrong because it “hurts women”; it’s wrong because it “kills a child.”

Kristi Hamrick, Students for Life’ Chief Media Strategist responded to Nick’s concerns stating, “F*** the baby, the Courts have stated that any policy must concern the interests of women and not the babies.” Nick resigned from Students for Life the following morning. 

Sustained Mediocrity

My resignation was not motivated by a concern over exorbitant pro-life salaries. However, during my years of activism, I became increasingly concerned with the behavior, poor results, mixed messages, and lack of accountability from pro-life organizations. Many pro-lifers argue these pro-life leaders are “highly skilled experts” that must be “competitively compensated.” However, the Pro-Life Movement’s record of sustained mediocrity does not bear this out.

Whether it be on the issue of presidential candidates, referendum outcomes, public opinion polls, Supreme Court Justices, or overall abortion rates, the results have been consistently poor. Although many pro-life leaders advertise to their donors that they seek to “abolish abortion” and secure "equal protection" for the pre-born; their standards often fall very short of these stated goals. Even though many pro-life leaders have been in positions of leadership for 15-30 years, still not a single Republican Presidential candidate has ever supported federal equal protection for the pre-born.

Unfortunately, there has developed a very unhealthy relationship between the pro-life industry and the Republican establishment. Pro-life organizations give Republican politicians an “A+” grade or a "100 percent” pro-life rating for simply advocating for a 15-week ban, which would still keep over 90 percent of surgical abortions legal. Even pro-life leaders who have publicly criticized the 15-week ban, such as Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, still regularly platform supporters of the 15-week ban. Most notably Ms. Hawkins regularly provides a platform for former Vice President Mike Pence, who has consistently publicly disagreed with Students for Life’s policy position. Thus, Republican candidates can receive the rubber stamp approval of pro-life organizations while taking a politically safe and convenient position. In return pro-life organizations receive access and photo ops with Republican leaders who do not really support their agenda. In the 2024 Republican Presidential primaries only two Republican candidates even advocated for a 15-week ban. As the journalist A.B. Stoddard has noted pro-life voters will eat whatever Trump serves them. Likewise, the mainstream pro-life commentator Alexandra Desanctis has observed, “Some Republican politicians appear to have internalized the belief that the Pro-Life Movement is the world’s cheapest date.”

Contrast this with the 2020 Democratic primaries, 23 of the Democratic candidates publicly supported access to 100 percent of abortions, and the 24th Candidate, Tulsi Gabbard supported 99 percent of abortions. The remaining candidates of the 2024 Republican primaries stated the issue should be left to the states.

This indifferent and morally relativistic deference to the states was the result of yet another counter-productive relationship: the relationship between the pro-life establishment and The Federalist Society. No less than seven Republican Supreme Court Justices in the past 38 years have ties to the Federalist Society. However, these highly lauded Federalist Society judges have views of abortion in stark contrast with the Pro-Life Movement’s stated goal of “abolishing abortion.” Not even one of these pro-life justices has ever advocated for federal protections for the pre-born.

For example, the gold standard of Republican pro-life justices, Antonin Scalia stated, “I think when the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, I think it clearly means the walking around persons.” Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the Dobbs majority, wrote in the ruling, “Our decision is not based on any view of when a state should regard prenatal life as having legal rights or cognizable interests.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh added in his Dobbs concurrence, “States may if they wish, permit abortion on demand” further expanding by adding the caveat, “May a state bar a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion? In my opinion the answer is no based on the interstate right to travel (emphasis mine).

Thus, according to Dobbs, every American woman’s right to travel for abortion supersedes any rights” or “protections for the pre-born granted in pro-life states. At least 10,560,000 abortions are estimated over the first 10 years under the Dobbs decision. One of the most damaging images of this result, will be the image the pro-life establishment standing in the rose garden of the White House clapping for the “morally neutral” justices of the Federalist Society. The 10,560,000 estimated abortions of the next 10 years are not despite Dobb’s moral neutrality but because of Dobbs’ moral neutrality. They are legitimized by the very Dobbs decision celebrated by the pro-life leadership.

The legal implications of the Dobbs’ deference to the states have had tragic consequences for the right to life for pre-born and have shown that the pro-life establishment has underperformed even in areas where they enjoy broad-based support on other conservative issues. Not only has the pro-life establishment gone 0-8 in the abortion referendums following Dobbs but this also going 0-4 in red states won by former President Trump in 2020 (Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, and Montana). They have also lost in every state where the implications of expanding access to later term abortion. Pro-life leaders obtained these negative results despite only 37 percent of Americans supporting abortion in the second trimester or later. The devastating consequences of these defeats are often not fully elaborated by the pro-life leadership. The pro-abortion victories in states such as California, Ohio, and Michigan create a constitutional right to abortion more expansive than Roe and this state right applies to state residents and non-state residents. Thus, women residing in states that have “banned” abortion still have a superseding right to travel to these states with abortion rights more expansive than Roe in a “Post-Roe” era. When framed in this way it becomes clear how the pro-life establishment has drastically overblown the potential impact of the Dobbs decision. Not a single major pro-life leader has apologized or resigned following the eight consecutive referendum defeats. In fact, some leaders have given themselves salary increases following this string of defeats.

Manipulating the Polling Data

Part of the reason for this underperformance is the Pro-Life Movement’s misrepresentation of polling and public perception. For example, in 2021 the pro-life apologist and noted abolitionist critic Jonathan Van Maren argued pro-life leaders should be applauded for keeping abortion a “51-49” issue. This is factually inaccurate and serves as a misrepresentation of the Pro-Life Movement’s failed record to change or even maintain public opinion.

According to a 2023 Gallup poll, a record-high 69% say abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. The percentages wanting abortion legal under any circumstances and illegal in all circumstances were closely matched in 2019. Since then, the preference for abortion being legal under any circumstances has swelled, rising from 25% that year to 32% by 2021 and 35% in 2022. It is currently 34%. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans wanting abortion illegal in all circumstances has fallen from 21% in 2019 to 13% in 2022 and 2023. Only 1 percent above the all-time low of 12 percent. It was during this same drop in public support that many pro-life leaders saw salary increases in excess of $100,000.

This misrepresentation of the polling was compounded by a gross overestimation of the statistical impact the Dobbs decision would have. In the wake of the overturn of Roe v Wade pro-life leaders such as Live Action’s Lila Rose touted, “This decision to end Roe v Wade will save millions of lives.” These predictions have not been borne out and are yet another indicator of the Pro-Life Movement’s failure to meet its stated goals.

Abortion "bans" more correctly decrease abortion by at most 20-25 percent in the impacted state. However, this 20-25 percent *only applies* to states that account for about 20 percent of US abortions. Which would be about an estimated 4-5 percent reduction in abortion. However, the data does not confirm this as we only see a 2.3 percent increase in live births post Dobbs. This 2.3 percent increase of 32,000 additional live births must be factored in to the 8 percent overall *increase in abortion* since 2017. Thus, the number of abortions in 2017 were 862,000 and the number of abortions in 2023 is estimated to be 1,056,000. These figures are from Guttmacher Institute, the number one most cited abortion statistics source. So, while it is true that abortion bans do increase live births, they do not offset the overall increase in abortions. If we compare the number of additional live births in 2023 (32,000) to the number of estimated abortions (1.056,000)

Out of 34 women who wanted to get an abortion in the US 33 still did.

This is the definition of failure. Attacking results in not attacking people. Leaders are judged not by their efforts nor their intentions, but by their results. Instead of demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary, most of the prominent national pro-life leaders should resign in shame. The pro-life leaders have led, and they have failed.

Although many pro-life leaders claim to be “free speech conservatives” who seek government “accountability” these same values are not applied to the pro-life leaders themselves. Pro-life leaders are very rarely elected, restricted to term limits, or subject to public debates. Virtually no public dissent is allowed, and dissenters run the risk of being blocked on social media or being de-platformed from organizations or conferences. Pro-life leaders decry a climate of fear and self-censorship for pro-lifers on campus and in the workplace while simultaneously creating a similar culture of fear, conformity, and self-censorship among pro-life activists.

The sad thing is I'm sure many pro-lifers silently agree with me however they feel tremendous peer pressure to say the "right thing" and tow the party line. Some do it out of fear of being ostracized, some do it to advance their career in the pro-life or conservative spheres.

To quote the pro-life leader Lila Rose, “Our first allegiance is not to partisan politics. It’s not to tribalism. Our allegiance is to truth, even when that truth is unpopular, especially when that truth is unpopular.”

I agree.

If only Lila and other pro-life leaders would live this virtue and defend their stated values, perhaps the pro-life industry would cease to be the “the world’s cheapest date.”

Article written by Jon Speed, Co-Producer of Babies Are Murdered Here and Babies Are STILL Murdered Here; Pastor of Missions and Evangelism, By the Word Baptist Church in Azle, Texas, and Board Member of Abolitionists Rising.

[DISCLAIMER: The views represented here are my own and may not necessarily represent the views of the organizations that I have worked closely with over the years, whether they be for-profit or non-profit. The organizations and people cited here may not necessarily agree with my position.]