House Resolution Seeks to Honor Homophobic Pro-Life Advocate John Patrick Stanton [UPDATED]

He was an anti-abortion advocate, who was arrested several times for his protests outside Planned Parenthood.

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The late John Patrick Stanton was called “the father of Philadelphia’s pro-life movement” by and the “pro-life movement’s leading light” by Catholic Philly. He lead radical anti-abortion protests outside the Planned Parenthood location at 12th and Locust for years. His protests were often so disruptive that he was arrested. Now, the PA House is attempting to pass a resolution to honor Mr. Stanton as a “humanitarian, activist and founder of the pro life movement in this Commonwealth,” despite information distributed to members of a House committee alleging that he was violent and homophobic toward to patients, community members, and Representative Brian Sims.

In an email communication obtained by G Philly, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood PA Sari Stevens outlined several reasons to vote against House Resolution 82, which would honor Mr. Stanton. This communication was sent to committee members before they voted on the matter. In the email, Stevens states the following:

“He would use terms like ‘faggot’ and racial slurs—towards patients, staff, partners and even Rep. Brian Sims … [He] displayed graphic, medically incorrect, and often racist signs around the facility targeting patients and staff … [He] created an unsafe atmosphere of real threat and the possibility of violence for the staff and medical professionals … [He] handed out plastic fetuses, often to people who did not want them who would then discard them, again littering the area with plastic fetuses.”

Despite the above information, the House committee voted “yes” to move the resolution forward. Several Democrats, including Representative Kevin Boyle, who had the support of Planned Parenthood and the local LGBT community during his election, voted “yes” to move the resolution to the floor for full a vote. (Boyle, as you may remember, was a key figure in advocating for  an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes bill in the House last fall.)

The resolution to honor Stanton, in part, reads:

“Whereas, beginning in 1969, Mr. Stanton became involved in the pro life movement in this Commonweath; and whereas, in 1972, Mr. Stanton collaborated with the General Assembly to secure the passage of legislation to strengthen State laws relating to abortion; and whereas, Mr. Stantion worked tirelessly and effectively to organize residents of this Commonwealth to advance the pro-life movement in which he so genuinely believed; and whereas, Mr. Stanton was instrumental in the establishment of a Statewide Choose Life license plate program in 2005;…and whereas, Mr. Stanton prayed and counseled at various facilities in the Philadelphia area.”

Maggie Leigh Groff, Vice President for External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, issued the following statement:

“We don’t believe that someone who had a history of harassing and intimating women, and a criminal record connected to that behavior, should have been honored by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.”

UPDATE [5/14/2015, 2:20 pm]: We reached out to Representative Boyle about his decision to vote to honor Stanton. His response:

Every legislative term, the PA House and Senate considers scores of resolutions honoring the lives of deceased Pennsylvanians. It is impossible to know the full character of every person our legislature honors in memoriam. I am appalled and disgusted to learn the full extent of the late Mr. Stanton’s actions. At no point was I nor state Representative Jerry Mullery ever approached by any interest group or any individual opposing this resolution. I look forward to correcting the record and voting in opposition when this resolution reaches the full House floor.