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On Abortion, Don’t Fight Crazy With Crazy

Brian Sims is disgraceful. The pro-life movement's response should be careful and sober.
by Jim Swift
May 8, 2019
On Abortion, Don’t Fight Crazy With Crazy
There are better ways to protest abortion. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

A Pennsylvania man made a video of himself of harassing anti-abortion protesters outside of a Pennsylvania abortion clinic and asking his social media followers to make public the identities of teenage girls in exchange for a donation to Planned Parenthood. Is he an activist? A sort of pro-choice version of James O’Keefe? Hah. No. His name is Brian Sims, and he’s a state representative.

If he had any honor or sense of decency, he would resign. But Brian Sims obviously lacks both, and he won’t.

Sims is doing this for attention, and pro-lifers are giving it to him. Issue-focused groups are faced with daily choices about how best to use their time and resources.

So, what to do?

Since a large facet of the pro-life movement is made up of non-profits that cannot advocate for the election or defeat of specific candidates, you can use the megaphone of the pro-life movement to draw attention to these actions and educate voters about the importance of life in Pennsylvania’s 182nd district. It’s about 60,000 people in a few hundred blocks in Philadelphia, the equivalent of a small city suburb. While it’s a safe Democratic district, a small investment could make Sims’s political life uncomfortable, opening the way for a challenger. Likely a Democrat, but perhaps one that isn’t as bad as Sims.

But vengeance isn’t typically a public tactic embraced by pro-lifers, and for good reason: an effective pro-life movement is about conversion and winning converts. Not owning the libs.

Another option could be to peacefully protest his actions. And pro-life organizations are already on the case. sent an email to its many members, a call for action and an invitation to a Friday peaceful protest. Additionally, the site tells its members that it “plans to make sure every Catholic voter in Pennsylvania hears about this shameless attack on innocent, praying pro-life women.” I personally may quibble with the messaging here, as a voter in Altoona is probably a waste of resources when you want to marshal voters in a specific Philadelphia district, but alright.

Live Action, headed by pro-life activist Lila Rose has also joined in supporting this Friday’s protest. (Rose recently came under fire for forcing one of her employees to resign for factually reporting on the bizarre public actions of Laura Loomer at the Conservative Political Action Conference.) In a message to supporters, Rose tagged a number of pro-life conservative activists, writers, and media personalities. Conservative writer Matt Walsh, who was tagged, amplified Rose’s message, saying that her organization, Live Action, was “taking the reins on organizing” the protest:

Take a look at the invite list, if you want to call it that: Abby Johnson and Jack Posobiec? If either of these names don’t raise eyebrows, they should.

Abby Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood employee and darling of the pro-life right for her conversion to the correct side of the issue. Her recent movie, Unplanned, was a hit at box offices. It was also a hit on social media where its account was allegedly meddled with by Twitter, which drew outcry. It also promoted the dangerous QAnon conspiracy repeatedly, something that Johnson has not sufficiently explained.

Jack Posobiec is an on-air personality at One America News and has been a prominent part of a wide variety of batshit crazy conspiracies that self-respecting pro-lifers should want absolutely nothing to do with. Whether it’s Pizzagate, the murder of Seth Rich, or doxxing Roy Moore’s accusers, Posobiec is in the thick of it. Only when challenged does he offer some mealy mouthed excuse that’s not to be believed. Plagiarists do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Just as we question our elected leaders about the acceptability of doxxing others, so, too, must we ask ourselves: “Is this acceptable behavior for a leader in the pro-life movement?”

Johnson and Posobiec should be unwelcome presences at pro-life rallies. Any movement that is serious about its cause and winning converts shouldn’t respond to the deplorable actions of one by bringing along their own troupe of crazy. It needlessly cedes the high ground and undermines the effectiveness of a response and the reputation of those involved.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.