PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia politician is causing a storm of controversy and nationwide outrage after he recorded himself confronting protesters outside of a Center City Planned Parenthood facility. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and police are now looking into the videos.
It’s a confrontation that Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims may not have realized would receive so much attention.
“She is an old white lady who’s going to try to avoid showing you her face,” Sims said in the video.
Sims, whose 182nd District includes Center City, berated a woman who silently prayed out front of Planned Parenthood on Locust Street, near 12th Street.
“Who would have thought that an old white lady would be out in front of a Planned Parenthood telling people what is right for their bodies,” Sims said in the video. “Shame on you.”
The nine-minute video uploaded to Sims’ Facebook page has been seen more than 1 million times.
Most of the reaction on both sides of the abortion debate has been negative.
“I’m pro-choice but this is unacceptable from a congressional representative. You should apologize,” one man wrote.
“I’m very pro-choice, and watching this sucked, you’re literally bullying her,” another wrote.
It’s not the only time Sims has confronted peaceful protesters in front of the same clinic either.
In a video uploaded less than a month ago, Sims asked viewers to identify four teenagers, offered up payment and even demanded to know where a man lived.
“I’ve got $100 for anybody who would identify these three,” Sims said in the video.
“We’re actually just praying for the babies,” a protester said.
Tom Stevens, the president of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, is calling for Sims to be held accountable for his actions.
“What I saw was harassment,” Stevens said. “Crazy stuff. Somebody who is unhinged. I’d like to see criminal prosecution. If he’s broken some law, and it looks like maybe he has, especially with the teens.”
CBS3 called, texted, tweeted and emailed Sims asking for comment but to no avail. Instead, he posted a public apology to his Twitter account Tuesday.
“What I should have shown you in that video was protesters gathered together to pray at – not to silently pray for people coming in and out of Planned Parenthood,” Sims said.
The representative ended his two-minute video saying, “I was aggressive. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I know I can do better, and I will do better for the women of Pennsylvania.”
CBS3 also reached out to Planned Parenthood.
“While we do not condone Representative Sims’ approach, our patients deserve to have access to health care without shame and stigma,” Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania president Dayle Steinberg wrote in a statement.
Both Philadelphia Police and District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office are aware of the videos and are currently looking into the issue.
Meanwhile, a pro-life rally in response to the videos is planned for Friday at 11 a.m. in front of Planned Parenthood.