Planned Parenthood said Tuesday that it does not condone a Pennsylvania state lawmaker confronting anti-abortion protesters outside its facility.
The organization's comments come after state Rep. Brian Sims (D) faced backlash this week for posting videos of himself rebuking protesters outside of the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania in his Philadelphia district.
Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, said in a statement to The Hill that the organization has a “strict non-engagement policy” with protesters.
“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,” Steinberg said in the statement.
“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,” he 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.”
Sims posted a video last week that showed him confronting a woman outside of the clinic and asking for help from anyone who could 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."
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
Sims had previously approached other protesters outside Planned Parenthood, including a group of teenage girls. The lawmaker has filmed such interactions, provoking outrage from those who say he is harassing people exercising their First Amendment rights. Some critics have called for his resignation.
An online petition calling for Sims's resignation had received nearly 5,700 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
The lawmaker also faced 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.
Sims responded to his critics, labeling them “Bible Bullies.”
“You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values,” the lawmaker wrote.
The Hill has reached out to the representative's office for further comment.