Pennsylvania and openly gay politician Brian Sims posted a video of himself on Twitter on Tuesday (7 May) explaining an interaction he recently had with pro-life protesters outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic. The original interaction, which he filmed and posted online, received plenty of criticism.
Sims posted the video of himself approaching the protesters last week on Periscope.
Lila Rose, the president and founder of Live Action, an anti-abortion organization known for publishing biased undercover sting operation videos against Planned Parenthood, posted another portion of the video on her own Twitter.
In this video, State Rep @BrianSimsPA says he’ll pay his followers $100 if they are able to dox three teen girls he films who are quietly praying outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. How is this guy still allowed to be on Twitter? pic.twitter.com/yfNCHhRSqY
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) May 6, 2019
In the videos, Sims repeatedly says ‘shame on you’ and ‘shame’ to the various people outside the clinic. At one point, as seen in the video posted by Rose, he offers his followers $100 (€89.35) to identify the protesters. He adds he’ll donate that money to Planned Parenthood.
Sims also rhetorically asks the protesters why they think they should get to police women’s bodies.
Many people online criticized Sims for the videos.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz described Sims as an ‘angry, hateful Dem’ and asked in a tweet if the Democratic party would ‘condemn this abuse’.
Sims responds in a new video
At first, Sims encouraged his followers to join him in pushing back against Planned Parenthood protesters when he originally posted the video.
‘They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame,’ he wrote. ‘They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition.’
When Live Action posted the video criticizing it, Sims hit back.
‘Bring it, Bible Bullies!’ he wrote in another tweet. ‘You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values. #BeReal’
On Tuesday (7 May), Sims posted another video to Twitter, this time explaining the interactions and addressing the criticism.
‘I received a lot of feedback about a video I posted last week and I wanted to provide some background,’ he explains.
‘I’ve lived across the street or next door to this particular Planned Parenthood, one of the most heavily protested Planned Parenthoods in America, for the last 15 years. I’ve seen men and women and teens try to go there for routine healthcare, for check-ups, for pap smears, for breast exams, for STD screenings, and yes, for abortions.’
He says it’s also where he goes for his PrEP medication.
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
As he continues, Sims says he has also spent the last seven years as a patient escort at this clinic.
‘I have seen first-hand the insults, the slurs, the attacks, and the racism that those protesters aim at mostly young girls going there for clinical care.’
He then addresses the controversial video.
‘What I should have shown you in that video was protesters 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 continues.
‘As a Planned Parenthood volunteer and as a supporter, I fully understand, respect, and appreciate the non-engagement policy that they have. I would never want to do anything that interfered with the care that they’re providing.
‘… 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.’
What Planned Parenthood says
In a statement provided to GSN, Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, said: ‘At Planned Parenthood, our top priority is the safety and well-being of our patients and staff, and we have 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.
‘At Planned Parenthood, we work every day to ensure every patient receives 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.
‘The bottom line is that abortion is a deeply personal decision, and must be left to patients and their health care providers. This means people should be able to access abortion care without government interference.’
GSN reached out to the Pennsylvania Democrats for comment.