By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
She had come seeking justice–not for herself, but for her daughters and their friend.
Ashley Garecht recently came to the state Capitol in Harrisburg, PA to do what she said was her job–advocating on behalf of her children.
You might not know Ashley’s name, but chances are you saw her face–trying to speak rationally and calmly to an out-of-control lawmaker in a video that went viral.
PA State Representative Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) recorded himself berating and harassing Ashley, her teenage girls, and their friend. The group had been quietly praying outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood facility known for its shoddy safety record.
Sims even offered a bounty to anyone who would identify the teenagers and reveal their home addresses. In a separate video, he used the same tactics to try to intimidate an older woman who was simply exercising her First Amendment rights by peacefully praying in front of the abortion center.
Sims has failed to personally apologize to Ashley, her daughters, their friend, and the unidentified older woman.
But Ashley–along with many people both in Pennsylvania and around the country–want to see Sims held accountable for his actions. They are supporting a resolution, sponsored by state Representative Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill, Berks, and Carbon Counties), which would formally censure Sims and take away his committee assignments.
At last count, House Resolution 387 had nearly 40 co-sponsors. But so far, House leadership has been reluctant to take up the cause–despite the nearly universal condemnation of Sims’ behavior.
And so Ashley made the rounds of the Capitol, meeting lawmakers in leadership, hoping to hold Sims to account. The odds might be stacked against her, but she is willing to try–for the sake of the young people that Sims badgered–and for all young people struggling to be heard above the din of a culture which tolerates, and at times even celebrates, abortion on demand.