Pennsylvania lawmaker offers $100 to anyone identifying anti-abortion protesters

Pennsylvania lawmaker offers $100 to anyone identifying anti-abortion protesters
© Twitter @BrianSimsPA

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is under fire after provoking several confrontations with people protesting a Planned Parenthood facility in Philadelphia, all of which he filmed.

In the videos, state Rep. Brian Sims (D) can be seen criticizing and rebuking various people standing outside the Planned Parenthood clinic who he says are protesting the facility for providing abortions.

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In one segment from a video posted last week, Sims asks for help from anyone watching who can provide details about the identity of a woman holding a rosary so that he can protest outside her home. He also asked viewers to provide details about her identity.

“If you know who this woman is and if you can give me her address, we’ll protest out in front of her home,” Sims said in the video. “Let’s go protest out in front of house and tell her what’s right for her body."

That video had been viewed more than 970,000 times by Tuesday morning. 

The videos have been taken at different times over the last few months, and have provoked outrage from those who say Sims is harassing people exercising their First Amendment rights. Some critics are calling for his resignation.

In another video uploaded earlier this year from the same facility, Sims walks up to three teenage girls who were there to pray and again asks if someone will identify them.

“I’ve got $100 to anyone who will identify these three. I’m going to donate to Planned Parenthood,” the lawmaker said of the girls. 

As the group walked away with an adult, Sims turned the camera to another man protesting outside the clinic.

“It would be easier if you just give me your name and your address,” Sims told the protester, who introduced himself as Rich. “Rich, what makes you think it’s your job to tell women what’s right for their bodies?”

“The truth is, I’m not really asking because I don’t care. Shame on you,” Sims added, walking away before the man could respond.

Sims has faced a fierce backlash for threatening to "doxx," or release private information about, the people he confronted. Social media users said releasing such information could lead to harm or violence against the otherwise apparently peaceful protesters.

An online petition calling for Sims's resignation has received more than 3,300 signatures as of Tuesday. 

Sims responded to his critics on Twitter, encouraging donations for Planned Parenthood. 

The Hill has reached out to the representative's office for further comment. 

A Planned Parenthood spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the organization has a "strict non-engagement policy" with those protesting outside the 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,” the statement read. 

“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 continued. “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.” 

-Updated at 2:47 p.m.