Lauretta Brown is the Register’s Washington-based staff writer.
Pro-life groups are organizing a rally in Pennsylvania Friday morning after State Rep. Brian Sims (D) posted videos of himself aggressively shouting at and demanding the identities of prayerful pro-lifers outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. In one video, Sims followed and kept his camera on an elderly woman who was praying the Rosary for over eight minutes, calling her “an old white lady, telling people what is right to do with their bodies,” and adding, “shame on you. Shame.”
Later, a video also surfaced of Sims offering $100 for the identities of a trio of teenage girls, two of which were ages 13 and 15, praying outside the clinic with an older woman. He also called them “pseudo-Christians,” who should be ashamed. Their mother later appeared on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and said that while his behavior was inappropriate, she and her daughters were praying for Sims.
The father of one of the girls called in to the Patrick Madrid show and said, “I’m really proud of these kids for being that witness, for being that silent witness and praying, and I really believe it’s bringing about a wake-up call about not only defending the unborn, but also religious freedom and freedom of speech.”
The state lawmaker later posted a video in which he acknowledged that he could “do better” and was “aggressive” but did not apologize to the teenage girls or the elderly woman.
“What I should have shown you in that video was protesters gathered together to pray at, not to silently pray for, people coming out of Planned Parenthood as they intercepted them and harassed them,” he added, also mentioning Planned Parenthood’s “non-engagement policy.”
In response to the videos, many prominent pro-life leaders are assembling a prayerful rally Friday morning outside that Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia and outside others across the nation.
“The Pro-Life Rally Against Bullying” will take place at 11 a.m. EST, the pro-life group Live Action announced.
“This is a peaceful, winsome demonstration of brotherly love to sidewalk counselors, women, and Rep. Brian Sims,” they wrote on Facebook. “We hope more lives are saved. Changed minds save lives.”
Abby Johnson, whose story of conversion from Planned Parenthood director to pro-life advocate is featured in the film “Unplanned,” announced on Twitter that she will be attending. She tweeted an invitation for Rep. Sims to join her at the clinic with his camera.
Live Action president and founder Lila Rose will be speaking at the rally alongside Kristan Hawkins with Students for Life, Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List and others. Rose is calling on Sims to resign over his treatment of the pro-life protesters.
“He refuses to apologize for instigating the doxxing of minors,” she wrote. “He doesn’t support the right to peaceful protest. He mocks people’s faith & skin color. He is toxic to an elected body.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is calling on the faithful to attend the pro-life gathering.
“These videos, which Representative Sims took himself, have rightly sparked broad outrage and garnered much attention in the press,” he noted in his statement. “His actions were unbecoming of an elected official. There is much bitter irony that he claims to be a champion for the rights of all women yet he trampled on the rights of others and disgracefully shamed them in public. It was particularly disdainful that he offered a bounty for the identity and home addresses of three young ladies in order to encourage protests at their homes.”
“I’m calling on all people of good will to channel their indignation into right action and prayerful witness,” he wrote. “Live Action has organized a prayerful rally that will take place this Friday, May 10 outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic at 12th and Locust Streets here in Philadelphia at 11 a.m. I’m encouraging broad participation in this peaceful initiative.”
He called on Christians to “meet the hateful actions of Representative Sims with the love of Christ and let us fervently pray for respect for life from conception to natural death.”
For those who can’t make the rally in Philadelphia, pro-lifers are coordinating nationwide to ensure that they have a presence “outside of every abortion clinic in this country on Friday, May 10.”