HARRISBURG - Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania state legislator who confronted a woman praying outside Planned Parenthood last week, said in a video posted to social media Tuesday that he was aggressive, and he reiterated his intention of “pushing back” against those who pray or protest outside abortion clinics.
Sims had livestreamed a video May 2 in which he can be seen approaching a woman outside of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The woman, by herself, can be seen praying the rosary across the street from the Planned Parenthood.
He aggressively questioned her for several minutes, and addressing livestream viewers he solicited the woman's name and address, saying, “we’ll protest outside of her home. Let’s go protest out in front of her house and tell her what’s right for her body.”
The lawmaker posted a video May 7 discussing the prior week's video.
I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded. I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right, especially on the front lines of a civil rights battle. I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania. pic.twitter.com/jURL1UX9qE— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 7, 2019
“I've lived across the street or next door to this particular Planned Parenthood … for the last 15 years,” he said. “I've seen men and women and teens try to go there for routine healthcare … and, yes, for abortions.”
“I've also spent the last seven years serving as a volunteer patient escort at this Planned Parenthood, and I have seen first hand the insults, the slurs, the attacks, and the racism that those protesters aim at mostly young girls … and last week was no different.”
“What I should have shown you in that video was protestors gathered together to pray at, not to silently pray for, people coming in and out of Planned Parenthood as they intercepted them and harassed them,” he stated.
“In my years with Planned Parenthood I've seen women and girls circle that block, two, three, four times before finally driving away because they know they weren't going to get in because of those protesters.”
Sims said that “as a Planned Parenthood volunteer and as a supporter, I fully understand, respect, and appreciate the non-engagement policy that they have, and I would never want to do anything that interfered with the care that they're providing to their patients. As an activist and an advocate I know why pushing back against harassment and discrimination are a must, even when they're uncomfortable.”
“But last week, I wasn't a patient escort, I was a neighbor and a concerned citizen, and I was aggressive. I know that two wrongs don't make a right, and I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania.”
Sims did not apologize to the woman he confronted in the video.
In a tweet accompanying the video, Sims wrote, “I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded. I also know that two wrongs don’t make a right, especially on the front lines of a civil rights battle. I can do better, and I will do better, for the women of Pennsylvania.”
Sims has represented District 182, a heavily-Democratic area of Philadelphia, in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2013. Sims is an LGBT activist and was the first person to identify as gay elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
He has been seen in other videos approaching people outside the same Planned Parenthood location as in his May 2 post. Many of those he approached, whom he characterized as “white people” and “psuedo-Christian protestors who have been out here shaming young girls for being here”, appear to be teenagers.
Sims have been the subject of an investigation by Pennsylvania’s State Ethics Commission, after questions were raised in 2017 regarding speaking fees he received while in office. He is accused of accepting honoraria, including fees and free travel and accommodation, in violation of policies governing state legislators.
A consortium of pro-life groups will hold a rally at the same Planned Parenthood location May 10. They have invited Sims to attend.