State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) looks someone out to start a fight and he got one – at the national level.
He posted videos of himself this week berating a handful of protesters at a Planned Parenthood in his district, accusing them of shaming people who are going into the facility.
In an eight minute periscope video recorded by Sims last week, he yells “shame” as he approaches a woman outside the clinic. He argues about the legitimacy of her religious faith and criticizes her for protesting, calling her act “grotesque.”
“Who would’ve thought that an old white lady would be out in front of a Planned Parenthood telling people what’s right for their bodies,” Sims said. “Shame on you.”
Sims follows her movements while calling her a coward for not facing him. The woman is silent for the first four minutes of the video until she tells Sims to get the camera out of her face and telling him it is none of his business.
Protesters are a frequent presence outside abortion clinics in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Activities run the gamut from silent prayer, to protest signs, handing out pamphlets, to chants, jeers and more. In some cases protesters have escalated their presence to verbal and physical intimidation or harassment. In recent years, abortion rights supporters have sought to turn the tables by spotlighting individual protesters. The video does not show any protesters speaking to or approaching anyone but Sims.
Planned Parenthood distanced itself from Sims’ actions even as it thanked him for his support in general. Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of PP Southeastern PA, said the organization has “a strict non-engagement policy with those protesting outside our health centers.”
“While we do not condone Representative Sims’ approach, our patients deserve to have access to health care without shame and stigma. Nobody should have to face shaming, judgment, harassment, or intimidation in order to get or provide health care,” she said.
“At Planned Parenthood, we work every day to ensure every patient receives the high-quality health care they need – including abortion services – in a safe, respectful environment. It’s important to know that in Pennsylvania, we’re facing several abortion ban bills that are being pushed by politicians who want to roll back the right to safe, legal abortion. We thank our champions – including Representative Sims – for their unwavering opposition to these bans.”
Sims appeared to back down in a video posted to Facebook Tuesday afternoon. He says he lives across the street from and is a patient at the clinic and has witnessed harassment there. But he conceded he violated the spirit of PP’s non-engagement policy and said “I will do better.” The video does not include an apology.
The video prompted outraged responses from many conservatives nationwide including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) quoting the tweet this morning calling on the Democratic Party to “condemn this abuse.”
Hateful, angry Dem state rep videoed himself offering a $100 bounty for the identities of three teenage girls praying outside Planned Parenthood. These young girls showed more maturity than this self-described “College Football Captain.” Will Dem Party condemns this abuse? https://t.co/updd6BLue7
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 7, 2019
Early Tuesday afternoon PAGOP Chair Val DiGiorgio said he is seeking a criminal investigation into Sims’ conduct in the two videos.
LiveAction, a pro-life group quoted the video on Twitter Sunday saying that Sims act was shameful.
Sims fired back at the group in a tweet saying, “Bring it, Bible Bullies! You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values. #BeReal”
Sims also said protesting Planned Parenthood is a racist act and believes that white people need to stand up in calling out those who do protest it.
“Don’t convince yourself that what you’re doing isn’t extremely racist,” Sims tells the woman. “How dare you. This is grotesque.”
Sims also challenges the woman to call the cops in the video and prodded her for not protesting the Catholic Church for the clergy sex abuse scandal.
The caption of Sims 8 minute long tirade is “Push back against Planned Parenthood protestors, PLEASE! They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame. They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition. Push back, please! #YouAreStrongEnough”
In a separate video just over one minute long, Sims records himself approaching a woman and what appears to be three teenage girls outside of a Planned Parenthood building calling them “a bunch of pseudo Christian protesters” and calls on viewers to identify the individuals protesting and promises to reward $100 to anybody who identifies them.
“Here’s the deal, I’ve got $100 to anybody who will identify any of these three, I’m going to donate to Planned Parenthood,” Sims said.
The adult woman responded by saying the were “just praying for the babies” before they walked away from the video. As the three girls and woman walk away, Sims says their white, while one girl responded “I’m not white.”
He also confronts a guy who says his name is Rich from Lansdale asking why he thought it was appropriate for him to be present outside of the building.
“Rich, what makes you think it is your job to tell women what’s right for their bodies,” Sims said. “The truth is I’m not really asking, cause I don’t care. Shame on you.”
This story was updated with the comment made by Rep. Brian Sims in a Facebook video.