Written by: Ashley Garecht
It has been six months since my encounter with State Representative Brian Sims in front of the Planned Parenthood at 12th and Locust St. in downtown Philadelphia. While my memories of that day and the media storm that followed are still jarring, I am also deeply aware of the ways that God was walking with us and working for good. I know with utmost certainty that while Satan “meant for evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” (Gen 50:20)
Many readers of this newsletter are familiar with my story. On Holy Thursday this past April, I went with my two daughters and their friend to quietly pray in front of the abortion facility. In the middle of our rosary, we were aggressively harassed by a man we later learned was State Representative Brian Sims. He came back a second time with his phone and filmed the three teenagers, ultimately doxxing them by offering $100 if anyone could provide their identities. Mr. Sims posted the video to his public Twitter account and it went viral a few weeks later. Before that video, he had also posted another video of his eight-minute long haranguing of a woman praying alone in front of the same facility.
Days later after the public saw both viral videos, more than 1,000 people attended a Stand Against Bullying Rally in front of that Planned Parenthood. National pro-life activists Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, and Matt Walsh came to Philadelphia at their own cost to denounce the actions of Mr. Sims and call for an end to the slaughter of abortion. A few weeks later, Representative Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill, Berks and Carbon Counties) introduced House Resolution 387 calling for the formal Censure of Brian Sims in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The resolution currently has 46 co-sponsors and my husband and I continue to work toward its passage in the House because it stands as both a public rebuke of Mr. Sims’ dangerous behavior, and as a substantive defense of the inviolability of our civil and religious liberties as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
As I reflect on all that has happened, I am mostly aware of several points of stark contrast. In the exact location where Mr. Sims used anger and intimidation in defense of abortion, an entire community came together in love and peaceful protest to declare the sanctity of life in the womb. Mr. Sims used the internet to threaten and intimidate, but with the support of thousands of individual donors we used the internet to raise nearly $130,000 for the work of the Pro-Life Union. Mr. Sims tried to make a mockery of the prayer warriors who stand in front of Planned Parenthood, but instead many people who had never found the courage to attend any type of pro-life event came to a nationally televised rally and signed up to learn more about the Sidewalk Servants. At every juncture, evil was overcome with good.
I have prayed in front of the Planned Parenthood at 12th and Locust Sts. several times over the last few months and my family will be there together during this fall’s 40 Days for Life campaign. When we go it will be with a renewed sense of the Lord’s presence and purpose, and a deeper appreciation for the pro-life community as we battle together to protect the unborn of our beloved city.
(Article published in the Pro-Life Union’s October 2019 Respect Life Month newsletter update.)