About 1,000 pro-life demonstrators gathered Friday outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood location where a state representative heckled a sidewalk counselor a week earlier. Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat, posted a video of himself on the Periscope app following a woman on May 3 as she silently walked and prayed on the sidewalk outside the abortion center. He begged supporters for $100 for every hour the woman continued to pray there.
“How many children have you clothed today?” he asked repeatedly during the nine minute video. “This is a racist act of judgment, and you have no business being out here. An old white lady out here telling people what’s right for their bodies.”
Sims also posted a video of himself confronting three teenage girls and an adult praying outside the facility on April 18. He attempted to get the addresses of the girls, offering $100 to anyone who could give him their identities. Ashley Garecht, the mother of two of the girls, later wrote in a column for USA Today that she and the girls were praying peacefully when Sims started yelling at them.
“Sims not only aggressively verbally accosted three minors, he also attempted to dox them by offering a financial donation in exchange for their personal information,” she wrote. “His actions were reprehensible and entirely unbecoming of any adult male, let alone an elected official.”
Pro-lifers showed up Friday in support of the people Sims harassed. Among the speakers at the rally was Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director and subject of the movie Unplanned. Lila Rose, founder of pro-life group Live Action, and pro-life blogger Matt Walsh also attended.
Before the event, Johnson asked Sims to attend the rally to get answers to his questions.
“I invite Mr. Sims to have a conversation outside the very Planned Parenthood … where he has incessantly harassed pro-lifers,” Johnson said in a statement. “Whatever he wants to talk about, I invite him to come on Friday morning.”
Sims reportedly did not appear at the rally. Meanwhile, Joe and Ashley Garecht started a GoFundMe page that raised more than $125,000 on behalf of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia as of Monday. —S.G.