What to Know
- Pa. Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia has drawn criticism for posting a video of himself sparring with a anti-abortion protester.
- The video, posted over the weekend, shows Sims yelling at an older woman outside Planned Parenthood.
- The state GOP is calling for him to apologize.
A Democratic Pennsylvania state lawmaker is drawing criticism for recording himself berating a woman demonstrator at length outside an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, calling her an "old white lady" and her protest "grotesque."
The video drew condemnation from the state GOP, which called for a criminal investigation into the behavior.
State Rep. Brian Sims posted an eight-minute-plus video on social media that showed him peppering the woman with questions and criticism.
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"Shame on you. What you're doing here is disgusting. This is wrong. You have no business being out here," he told the unidentified woman.
The video was apparently shot several days ago at a Planned Parenthood health center in his district.
As she studiously ignored him, Sims told viewers the woman had been confronting the people who were walking into the clinic.
The woman said little in response as Sims attacked her protest as "racist" and "shameful." At one point she took a rosary from her bag and clutched it.
"Get your camera out of my face," she told Sims after about four minutes of confrontation. He told her no and suggested that protesters target her home.
Replies to Sims' Facebook account accused him of bullying the woman and harassing her as she prayed in a public place.
State Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio said the video shows extremism and hypocrisy and called on Sims to apologize.
"People are entitled to exercise their First Amendment rights and should be free from intimidation and harassment," DiGiorgio said.
On Tuesday, DiGiorgio sent a letter to U.S. Attorney William McSwain, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner asking for a criminal investigation into Sims' conduct.
A spokesperson for Krasner confirmed that the office received the letter and said that it is being reviewed.
Sims asked viewers who support his position in favor of abortion rights to donate to Planned Parenthood.
"You're out here shaming people for doing what they have a constitutional right to do," Sims told the protester, calling her "an old white lady" multiple times.
He asked her whether she has protested the revelation last year in a grand jury report that hundreds of Catholic priests had molested at least 1,000 children in Pennsylvania dioceses over 70 years.
Sims told viewers "this is what they deserve," and that protesters should not be telling others what to do with their bodies.
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Sims responded to an online critic: "Bring it, Bible Bullies! You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values."
Sims posted a follow up message on Tuesday in which he said he "can do better and will do better" for the women of Pennsylvania.