Rose said “over 900 babies are killed every day at Planned Parenthood facilities across the U.S., and 2,600 across the nation at abortion clinics” on a daily basis in total.
Author and speaker Matt Walsh, who had called for the rally through a series of Twitter posts, said “abortion is not a reproductive issue, but a parenting decision,” since “by the time the abortion happens, reproduction has already occurred.”
Walsh said he hoped the rally would become a regular event.
Ashley Garecht, one of the women who had been confronted in Sims’ videos, drew cheers as she commended the longtime efforts of pro-life demonstrators and volunteers, noting they “are standing on the side of the angels.”
Garecht also observed that the demonstration took place just blocks from the one-time home of James Madison, a primary author of the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines “a self-evident, inalienable right to life,” she said.
Several speakers directly addressed Sims’ claims that the pro-life advocates he had filmed were racist.
Richara Krajewski of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia said she stood before the crowd “as a pro-life black woman.”
Noting that “it’s so popular now to call out racism,” Krajewski wished to clarify that application of the term, particularly “in the context of pro-abortion politics.”
“Real racism,” she said, “is co-opting the language of liberation to advocate for the destruction of the lives of the most vulnerable. Real racism is a so-called white ally telling black and brown women that they need to choose between their dreams and their babies.”
Toni McFadden, founder of Relationships Matter, described her own experience as an African-American teenager who had turned to Planned Parenthood for an abortion induced through an abortifacient prescription. Through speaking engagements, McFadden now shares her insights on post-abortion healing and spiritual development “so that no more babies need to die because of convenience.”
Abby Johnson, author of the book “Unplanned” and a nationally recognized pro-life advocate, met with an enthusiastic response as she announced she is now 37 weeks pregnant.
A former Planned Parenthood employee, Johnson took the organization to task for “covering up statutory rape of minors, not sterilizing instruments that are being used woman to woman” and repeatedly failing health inspections.
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“That is the antithesis of health care and the antithesis of feminism,” said Johnson.
Earlier in the week, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in a statement had encouraged people to attend the rally and "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."
Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre delivered a final blessing at the gathering, which had been marked throughout by the prayers of the attendees. Many of them carried rosary beads, while a few held crucifixes aloft in the crowd.
Some 20 patient escorts from Planned Parenthood, wearing bright yellow and pink vests, lined the sidewalk during the rally; they declined to offer comment on the rally.
Margaret Kuhar, a Philadelphia resident who has just finished her freshman year at the University of Mary, said the event was remarkable for its “shoulder-to-shoulder turnout” and the rapid manner in which it had been organized.
She has attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. more than 15 times with her family, and said she has seen “a big turnaround” in the attitude of younger generations to abortion, with more young adults less willing to seek it out.