Book Excerpt: A Heartbeat of Courage by Tony Perkins

Olivier Douliery/Getty Images/AFP
File Photo: Olivier Douliery/Getty Images/AFP

The following is a condensed, edited excerpt from “No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth” by Tony Perkins in which he includes the story of a young woman named Lila Rose who—long before the more recent video exposes of Planned Parenthood—made her own foray into the inner world of this organization and discovered what was really going on.


The afternoon was beautiful. Sunny. It was not yet officially spring, but in Santa Monica, almost every day feels like it.

But the warmth of the March sun didn’t quite take away the chill as Lila made her way to her destination on 3rd Street Promenade. Walking down the sidewalk in her old jeans and flip-flops, Lila Rose’s shoulder-length brown hair was pulled back in a short ponytail and tucked under a baseball cap. Lila wore an oversized T-shirt, designed to conceal her age and her waistline. It was not the temperature or the steady breeze fluttering in from the Pacific Ocean that prompted the occasional shiver; it was one of those deep, anxious shudders that comes from the anticipation of danger that lay just ahead.

The eighteen-year-old was about to stare down the abortion giant, Planned Parenthood for the first time. Face to face. Stepping into a building’s atrium, she pressed the button on the elevator, taking her to the second floor at 1316 3rd Street. Paying little attention to anyone standing close by, she continued rehearsing her story: “I’m fifteen years old and I am pregnant by my boyfriend who is twenty-three years old and I need help.” 

The tale was carefully crafted because such a scenario was not only a lie; it was a felony under California law.  Regardless of the circumstances, a fifteen-year-old having sexual relations with a twenty-three-year old is statutory rape. Under California law, as in most states, facilities like Planned Parenthood are required to report suspected cases to law enforcement authorities, something Planned Parenthood is notorious for not doing. Why? It would get in the way of their chief aim: conducting an abortion.

The recording device hidden under Lila’s T-shirt picked up the sound of her racing heart as thoughts and fears of the “what ifs” flooded her mind.

            “What if they discover I’m really eighteen and not the fifteen-year-old I am claiming to be?” 

            “What could happen to me behind the doors of this clinic if they catch on to our undercover operation?”

The thoughts were coming almost as fast as her heart was racing.

“Lord, give me the courage to overcome my fears,” she whispered out loud as she walked toward the clinic’s busy lobby.

Lila stepped off the elevator on the 2nd floor and walked to the entrance to the Planned Parenthood clinic, a blue metal door surrounded by a transom and side windows of opaque glass.  The exterior of the clinic looked benign, an almost industrial look that gave no hint of what actually happened inside.

She pressed the intercom button on the protruding chrome box fixed to the wall next to the door.

A very matter-of-fact voice came through the intercom.  “Can I help you?”

Using her rehearsed line, Lila bent over toward the chrome box and said, “I am pregnant and I am only fifteen; can I talk with someone?”

There was a buzz, a click and entrance to the abortion clinic was granted.

Stepping inside, Lila was greeted by the expressionless faces of about a half-a-dozen young women sitting in the small reception area that matched the stolid exterior of the clinic. She scanned the room, her eyes focusing on a mural on the green wall behind the young waiting women. The word “Esperanza” was painted there in large letters.  Spanish for “hope.” It was clear from the downcast faces of the young women waiting for their turn, that hope was in short supply.

“What’s your name?” asked the thirtysomething gatekeeper dressed in medical scrubs sitting behind the receptionist’s counter.

Lila once again recited the statement that she had rehearsed dozens of times in her head. “I am fifteen years old and I think I am pregnant.”

The Planned Parenthood staffer ushered Lila behind the reception counter to put a some distance between her and others in the waiting room. Behind the counter Lila repeated her situation adding that her boyfriend was twenty-three years old. In a hushed tone the receptionist said “If you’re fifteen, we have to report it. If you’re not, if you’re older than that, then we don’t need to.”

Lila responded, “Okay, but if I just say I’m not fifteen, then it’s different?  So I could just say…”

“You could say sixteen,” the woman suggested.

“I could say sixteen?”


“Okay, yeah. So I would just write sixteen?”

“Well, just figure out a birth date that works.” With a shrug, the receptionist added, “And I don’t know anything.”

Lila took the papers and sat down as if she were following the instructions. As other young girls, one by one, stood before the same counter answering questions, others were taken through another door into the back of the clinic where the examinations and abortions were performed. In the midst of the steady flow of activity, Lila slipped out of the door unnoticed with the recorded evidence that Planned Parenthood was aiding and abetting criminal activity.

Because of her bravery, the Advocate now had hard evidence of illegal activity. And within days the video they posted on YouTube went viral and the story became national news. Lila was interviewed by Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and other news outlets.

In full damage-control mode, Planned Parenthood resorted to legal intimidation of Lila, sending her a cease-and-desist letter. The document stated that her undercover recordings violated California law. They threatened to sue her in civil court for five thousand dollars for each offense. Planned Parenthood demanded she stop the undercover investigations, remove existing video from YouTube, and turn the original recordings and all copies over to Planned Parenthood.

With just $200 in her bank account, the threat from the billion-dollar abortion giant was more than real, it was overwhelming. But Lila refused to yield to fear, no matter how strong the attacks against her.

Obtaining legal counsel from the organization Alliance Defending Freedom, Lila reluctantly accepted their advice to comply with some of Planned Parenthood’s demands.

However, her undercover work against the organization continues. She has conducted numerous undercover operations exposing Planned Parenthood for rapists and sexual traffickers and for performing illegal late-term abortions. Her courageous work has made her a national leader in the pro-life community and has prompted state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s practices. Live Action’s investigations of Planned Parenthood have fueled the effort at all levels of government to put an end to taxpayer dollars being given to the abortion giant and most importantly, Lila’s work has saved the lives of babies and inspired others to do the same.

Adapted from NO FEAR: real stories of a courageous new generation standing for truth. Copyright © 2015 by Anthony R. Perkins. Published by WaterBrook Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.