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PHILADELPHIA, May 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A lineup of leading pro-life advocates gathered in Philadelphia Friday morning outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility where State Rep. Brian Sims filmed himself berating peaceful pro-life activists, including teen girls.
Over the weekend, the Pennsylvania Democrat posted a video in which he followed a woman who was quietly walking and praying a rosary, attempted to shove his phone in her face, and repeatedly called her her “shameful,” “disgusting,” “racist,” and an “old white lady.”
Another of Sims’ videos shows him approaching three girls outside Planned Parenthood, who he calls “a bunch of pseudo-Christian protesters who’ve been out here shaming young girls for being here,” then offers “$100 to anybody who will identify these three.” Afterward he approaches a male protester and asks, “What makes you think it’s your job to tell women what to do with their bodies?” But before the man can answer, Sims declares, “The truth is, I’m not really asking, because I don’t care. Shame on you,” and walks away.
The videos sparked an intense critical response online, with conservative commentator Matt Walsh proposing a pro-life rally outside the abortion center to “show Sims and everyone else that we are not going to sit back submissively while pro-lifers are abused for speaking out in defense of the unborn.”
The idea quickly caught on, and Live Action got involved to organize it in a matter of days, with “hundreds” turning out according to NBC Philadelphia.
Live Action founder Lila Rose spoke throughout the rally, introducing the speakers as well as delivering her own remarks. “We invited Brian Sims here today to listen to another point of view,” she noted, but Sims did not attend. “This threatening, menacing behavior, has yet to be decried…by any member of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania,” she added, before the crowd erupted into chants of “resign now.”
“Do not tell me Planned Parenthood cares for women,” Rose declared, encouraging listeners to get involved in sidewalk counseling themselves. “We are here because we know women deserve better.”
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Dr. Monique Ruberu, an OB/GYN and local 40 Days for Life campaign leader, spoke of the importance of sidewalk counseling to saving lives and giving women in crisis the help they need, with over 50 confirmed instances of Philadelphia efforts saving lives. “Sadly, we also know that when we aren’t present, there’s nothing but silence. Nobody to offer resources. Nobody to offer love, nobody to offer support.”
“We’re not here to rebuke people, to harass people, we’re here to love,” she said. “To love the moms, to love the babies, to love the workers, to love the abortionist, to love the sidewalk escorts, even those who persecute us.”
Richara Krajewski, a board member of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, emphasized the disconnect between how the abortion lobby conducts itself and its claims to racial sensitivity.
“Real racism is co-opting the language of liberation,” she said. “Real racism is a so-called white ally telling us we need to choose between our dreams and our babies,” the “idea that older white women cannot care for black or brown women,” and “advocating for the annihilation of someone whose value it not apparent to you.”
“Mr. Sims, we will not stop coming here to pray,” Krajewski declared. “I believe that not only does everyone have a right to life, but I have the right to stand here and offer hope to others.”
Ashley Garecht, the mother of two of the girls seen in the video, told the crowd how she was always pro-life yet initially skeptical of the impact of sidewalk counseling before being exposed to the work of Abby Johnson. “We are here to witness the tangible fruit of incredible effort,” she said. “God is working in incredible ways.”
“About ten blocks from where we stand is the house where James Madison lived,” she continued. “This city is where the self-evident, unalienable right to life was first declared. And our forefathers believed in our right to liberty so strongly that they specifically enumerated our rights in our Constitution. And no one, not even an elected official, can take that away from us.”
Walsh took the podium later, expressing gratitude that “we’re not merely complaining right now,” but “decided to do something…We’re here putting skin in the game right now, saying to the pro-life activists on the front lines right now that they are not alone.”
Walsh hoped that the turnout helped Sims understand that “if you try to shut us up we’re only going to get louder…because we know that our cause is just…I know why you use scare tactics, [because] that’s all you have. I can tell you why babies should not be killed [as can rest of audience]. Can you look us in the eyes and tell us why babies should be killed?”
Toni McFadden, founder of the Relationships Matter ministry, came to share her story of post-abortion healing, from an abortion clinic nurse who told her that her baby was “nothing” and “just the size of a pea,” to the “excruciating pain” she suffered two months after taking RU-486, to her boyfriend abandoning her and her fall into despair.
But years later, with the help of a friend who got her involved in a campus Bible study, God “saved my soul.” What’s more, God healed her boyfriend as well, and they reconnected, married, and now have four children. “We have a God that redeems,” McFadden declared.
Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood insider-turned-pro-life leader, told the crowd that her takeaway from watching Sims videos was, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone who needs Jesus more than that man. We’re going to pray for him. But we’re also going to stand up.
“I can’t believe he didn’t show up today, he got the invitation from me several times alone,” she quipped. “But he didn’t stand up, because it is cowardly to defend death; it is courageous to defend life.” While the event was sparked by Sims’ treatment of pro-life activists, Johnson took the opportunity to remind the crowd that it was “nothing compared to what those little children go through inside.”
“This battle is not gonna be won in the halls of Congress,” she claimed. “It’s not gonna be won in the White House. It’s gonna be won in the sidewalks.”
Lauren Muzyka, executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, noted that it was apparent from Sims’ own video that the pro-lifers he harassed were peaceful, and took the opportunity to stress the fact that this particular Planned Parenthood location has failed 13 of its last 23 patient safety inspections, with offenses ranging from neglecting to do background checks on employees to failing to report child sex abuse.
“Fine medical facility you have here Planned Parenthood; they are very pro-women,” she said sarcastically. “We call on Brian Sims to resign. And Mr. Sims, you owe an apology…to the elderly grandmother, to the women, to the minor children you harassed.”
State Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio has requested that U.S. attorney William McSwain, Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, and Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner open criminal investigations into Sims for “intimidation and harassment.” Krasner’s office confirmed that it is reviewing the request.
Sims at first responded to his critics with defiance, challenging “Bible Bullies’ to “bring it” because he “see[s] right through” the “fake morals” and “broken values” of “bigots, sexists, and misogynists.” On Tuesday, he admitted only to being overly “aggressive” while continuing to frame pro-lifers as “harassers.”
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