Lawmaker vows to ‘do better’ after abortion clinic video
In this Sept. 25, 2014, file photo, State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, speaks at a protest calling on Pennsylvania to add sexual orientation to its hate crime law at John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as Love Park in Philadelphia. The 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.” AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2014, file photo, State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, accompanied by other officials, speaks at a protest calling on Pennsylvania to add sexual orientation to its hate crime law at John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as Love Park in Philadelphia. The 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.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
A Pennsylvania state lawmaker who has drawn criticism for a recording of himself berating a woman who was protesting abortion outside a Philadelphia clinic promised Tuesday to “do better.”
Democratic state Rep. Brian Sims posted a two-minute video on Twitter that said “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“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,” Sims said, referring to a volunteer role he has performed in the past. “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.”
In the video shot last week outside a Planned Parenthood facility in his district, Sims peppered the unidentified woman with comments and questions, calling her actions disgusting, racist and shameful. The woman largely ignores him, at one point taking a rosary out of her bag.
The chairman of the state Republican Party, Val DiGiorgio, made public a letter he sent Tuesday to city, state and federal prosecutors, asking them to investigate what he called potentially criminal conduct in that video and another.
In the second video, Sims asked viewers to identify three young females he described as protesters and “pseudo Christians” outside the Planned Parenthood clinic. He offered a reward for the information, promising to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney William McSwain declined to comment. A request for comment has been made with the state attorney general’s office. A spokesman for the city district attorney said their office is reviewing the issue.
“Not only does Rep. Sims, a former collegiate-level football quarterback, use physical intimidation, but he also threatens people with so-called ‘doxing’ or enticing viewers to provide identifiable information about his targets to increase the harassment and intimidation of his victims,” DiGiorgio wrote.
In the latest video, Sims said he has lived near the clinic for 15 years and served as a volunteer patient escort.
“I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to make the best choices for her health (and) her body, unimpeded,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sims, in Harrisburg for a legislative voting session, did not respond to several messages left over the past two days.
A senior Republican in the state House, Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor of York County, said Tuesday that Sims should apologize.
“Further I believe his actions warrant an investigation by the House Ethics Committee,” Saylor said in a news release. “The actions taken by Rep. Sims are serious and are a concern to public safety.”