First, pro-life supporters rallied behind a Pennsylvania couple that fought back against what it termed “shameful and unacceptable” conduct by abortion supporter and Democratic Pennsylvania state legislator Brian Sims by raising more than $100,00 for the pro-life cause.
Then, on Friday, they took to the streets — protesting outside the same abortion clinic where Sims sought to dox the teenage daughters of Joe and Ashley Garecht.
“We are here because we stand for the dignity of every human life. We are here because we do not cower to bullies and harassment, We are here because we share the commitment to fight for life,” Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion group Live Action, said, according to Philly.com.
“Even in the midst of all of the challenges, the challenges we had that day and certainly the firestorm of this week, I want you to know that I am so grateful,” Ashley Garecht told hundreds of marchers. “I am so grateful because we are here today to witness the tangible proof of incredible effort.”
She spoke with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday, telling the Fox News host: “I was concerned for my girls.”
“It means the world to us that people have rallied around our family during this difficult time,” Joe Garecht said. “The prayers and words of encouragement have been amazing and have sustained our entire family.”
The episode began last month when Ashley Garecht and her daughters, aged 13 and 15, and a friend protested outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and were included in a video made by Sims. It showed Sims scolding everyone he met for their pro-life efforts. Sims called upon viewers to identify the girls, offering to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood in exchange for their names.
WATCH: Pennsylvania State Representative @BrianSimsPA harasses an elderly woman who is peacefully advocating for the lives of preborn human beings and women who are considering abortion.
This is shameful. https://t.co/Xb9pkFZSXC
— Live Action (@LiveAction) May 5, 2019
The Garecht family then created a GoFundMe page to raise $100,000 for the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia. As of Friday, the page had raised $119,822.
“On Holy Thursday (April 18, 2019) my wife, two teenage daughters, and their friend were peacefully praying outside of a Planned Parenthood in Center City Philadelphia when a man started yelling at them … after ranting at them for several minutes, he left, and returned with his cell phone,” Joe Garecht wrote.
“It’s bad enough that a grown man would be trying to dox three teenage girls. It’s even worse that he is an elected official,” Garecht wrote. “First, Brian, if you have a problem with my wife and daughters praying outside of an abortion clinic, I’m the one you can talk to … instead of harassing teenage girls. It seems like you like to pick on women, teenagers, and senior citizens … That’s shameful, and unacceptable.”
The results of the GoFundMe drive encouraged pro-life supporters.
“We are beyond blessed to see people motivated to help the pro-life movement in the Greater Philadelphia region,” Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia’s president and CEO, Tom Stevens, said.
“In 2018, there were 15,821 abortions performed at abortion centers in the Greater Philadelphia area alone. While our hearts are broken for the unborn and for their moms and dads, we are also filled with hope by this great outpouring of support for life.”
Some legislators have called for Sims to face consequences.
Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the state Republican Party, has called for a criminal investigation into Sims’s conduct.
“Not only does Rep. Sims, a former collegiate-level football quarterback, use physical intimidation, but he also threatens people with so-called ‘doxing’ or enticing viewers to provide identifiable information about his targets to increase the harassment and intimidation of his victims,” DiGiorgio wrote.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Stan Saylor, a Republican, said Sims should apologize
“Further I believe his actions warrant an investigation by the House Ethics Committee,” Saylor said in a news release, WCAU reported. “The actions taken by Rep. Sims are serious and are a concern to public safety.”
On Tuesday, Sims issued a response to the controversy but did not apologize.
I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded. I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right, especially on the front lines of a civil rights battle. I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania. pic.twitter.com/jURL1UX9qE
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 7, 2019
“I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded. I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right, especially on the front lines of a civil rights battle. I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania,” he tweeted.
That response was more muted than a Sunday tweet in response to the controversy.
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 5, 2019
“Bring it, Bible Bullies! You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values,” he tweeted.
Ashley Garecht said “God loves [Sims] more than he can imagine” and said she has forgiven him.
But Sims “made some terrible mistakes,” she said.
“He’s an adult male and he should know better, but especially as an elected official, he knows that in this city of all places, we have the right to peacefully express our faith and we have the freedom of speech as protected by our Constitution,” Garecht said.
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