A video showing a Democratic state representative harassing an elderly woman outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic has sparked a backlash from pro-life leaders, who have scheduled a protest Friday outside the same clinic.
The “Pro-Life Rally Against Bullying” will include some of the top pro-life voices in the country, including Live Action’s Lila Rose, author and activist Abby Johnson, and conservative writer Matt Walsh.
Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat, posted a video last week of himself harassing a peaceful pro-life woman he labeled an “old white lady.” Sims threatened to find her address and also told her she had no “moral right” to be there. She stood silent and clinched her rosary beads as he continuously circled her.
The rally, organized by Live Action and other pro-life groups, will take place 11 a.m. Eastern Friday in front of the Planned Parenthood at 1144 Locust Street in Philadelphia.
“This is a peaceful, winsome demonstration of brotherly love to sidewalk counselors, women, and Rep. Brian Sims,” Live Action announced. “We hope more lives are saved. Changed minds save lives.”
Walsh said the rally “came together quickly.”
“We invite @BrianSimsPA to come with his camera!” Walsh wrote.
The rally is planned for 11 AM on Friday at the Planned Parenthood on 1144 Locust St in Philly. A bunch of different pro-life groups reached out to me minutes after I sent that original tweet and this all came together quickly. We invite @BrianSimsPA to come with his camera!— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) May 7, 2019
“This has turned into a beautiful moment of unity for people all across the pro-life movement. I think Friday will be special,” Walsh wrote on Twitter. “Grateful to be part of it.”
Johnson, who is the subject of the pro-life film Unplanned, said on social media she will attend. She said she hopes Sims shows up, too.
“Care to join me? Probably want to bring your camera. Let me know,” Johnson wrote on Twitter, referencing Sims.
Let me clarify, @BrianSimsPA, I will be at that same PP clinic at 11am this Friday, May 10. So be sure to reschedule your mani-pedi so you can make it. 😘 Wanted to give you plenty of time to coordinate your schedule.— Abby Johnson (@AbbyJohnson) May 7, 2019
I can be in front of that clinic on Friday, @BrianSimsPA. Care to join me? Probably want to bring your camera. Let me know. 😘— Abby Johnson (@AbbyJohnson) May 7, 2019
Rose, the founder and president of Live Action, called on Sims to resign.
“He refuses to apologize for instigating the doxxing of minors,” Rose wrote on Twitter. “He doesn’t support the right to peaceful protest. He mocks people’s faith & skin color. He is toxic to an elected body. He must go.”
Pennsylvania State Rep @BrianSimsPA has to go. He must resign. He refuses to apologize for instigating the doxxing of minors. He doesn’t support the right to peaceful protest. He mocks people’s faith & skin color. He is toxic to an elected body. He must go. #ResignBrianSims— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) May 7, 2019
Rose was partially referencing a second video that surfaced showing Sims harassing three teenage girls.
“So here’s the deal, I’ve got $100 for anyone who will identify any of these three,” he said in the video that shows three teenage girls standing in front of the same Planned Parenthood clinic.
He labeled the girls “pseudo-Christian protesters.”
Meanwhile, Sims posted a video Tuesday saying he had “received a lot of feedback” from colleagues in the legislature. The latest video was posted from the capitol in Harrisburg, with Sims wearing a suit.
“I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health & her body, unimpeded,” he wrote in a message accompanying the video. “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.”
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
The initial video that sparked the backlash showed Sims following a woman up and down a Philadelphia sidewalk for eight minutes.
“Who would have thought that an old white lady would be out in front of a Planned Parenthood telling people what’s right for their bodies? Shame on you,” he said. “Shame at you for hiding your face at the same time you’re shaming other people. … What you’re doing here is disgusting.”
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 https://t.co/rYQOiAhC0D— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 2, 2019
The clinic is operated by Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania and called the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Rachel Murray/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.