Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims still has not apologized to the pro-life women and girls who he berated outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility earlier this spring.
And one fellow state lawmaker is trying to do something about it.
State Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill, introduced a resolution this week to formally rebuke Sims for “persecuting” the women and girls. The measure calls for Sims to be removed from all standing committees and to not be appointed to any future leadership positions or committees for the remainder of the term.
“As you know, Rep. Sims recorded himself, on two separate occasions, verbally attacking individuals who were peacefully protesting at Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania,” Knowles said in a statement. “Rep. Sims has yet to publicly apologize to the victims of his actions, and to the PA House of Representatives for the shame that he has brought upon this institution.”
In May, Sims posted a public video online of himself berating an older pro-life sidewalk counselor outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Philadelphia. A second video that he posted in April showed him offering $100 for the identities of three teenage girls, ages 13 and 15, who were praying peacefully outside the abortion facility with their mother.
Sims never apologized to the woman or girls, but he did apologize to Planned Parenthood for making abortion activists look bad.
Despite a huge protest and national media attention, state Democratic leaders said they will not take any action to condemn Sims’ behavior. In May, Bill Patton, a spokesman for Pennsylvania House Democrats, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they are “satisfied” with Sims’ promise that he will not behave that way again.
State Republican leaders condemned Sims’ behavior, but Knowles’ resolution would add weight to their words. He currently is seeking co-sponsors for the resolution.
“By soliciting strangers on the internet for their personal identifying information (i.e. names and addresses), Sims placed these citizens in reasonable fear for their own safety, merely because they were exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest,” Knowles said.
He also criticized Sims for using his public office to intimidate peaceful individuals who were exercising their free speech rights.
Maria V. Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, praised the effort.
“Women and girls should not be harassed simply for exercising their First Amendment rights,” Gallagher told LifeNews. “For the sake of the dignity of women, the Constitution, and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, this resolution deserves passage.”
In May, about 1,000 pro-lifers held a peaceful rally in Philadelphia, calling for the state lawmaker to apologize and resign. LifeNews.com also began a petition calling for Sims’ resignation; it has more than 34,000 signatures.
Additionally, the family of the teen girls raised nearly $130,000 in an online fundraiser to support mothers and babies in Philadelphia in response to Sims’ actions.
One of the videos that Sims posted showed part of his interaction with a mother and her teenage daughters who were praying outside the Planned Parenthood on the Thursday before Easter. In the video, Sims offered viewers $100 to identify the 13- and 15-year-old girls.
“What we’ve got here is a bunch of … pseudo Christian protesters who’ve been out here shaming young girls for being here. So, here’s the deal, I’ve got $100 to anybody who will identify these three, and I will donate to Planned Parenthood,” Sims said in the video.
His requests suggest that the state representative may have been trying to intimidate the girls through doxing, a practice where a person’s name and contact information are posted publicly online usually to encourage harassment.
Sims’ actions may have violated consent and cyberbullying laws. The Philadelphia police and district attorney’s office said they are looking into the incident.
In another video, Sims also appeared to be attempting to dox another pro-life woman – he called her an “old white lady” – by asking his viewers for her name and address.
In the wake of national publicity, Sims released a statement where he did not apologize for his behavior. Instead, he chose to attack pro-life advocates even more by claiming they “slur” and “attack” Planned Parenthood patients – without providing any evidence to support his claims.