The Atlantic

What Happens When an Activist Bullies Anti-abortion Protesters

Health clinics say that staging counterprotests isn’t just counterproductive—“it’s completely inadvisable.”
Source: Matt Rourke / AP

It’s been a rough week for Brian Sims.

The Pennsylvania Democrat has been pelted with criticism and demands for his resignation from his state House seat in the days since he posted a video of himself aggressively confronting an anti-abortion protester outside a Planned Parenthood clinic. “An old white lady telling people what to do with their bodies? Shame on you!” Sims shouts at the woman in a clip he live-streamed on Periscope. “Push back against Planned Parenthood protesters, PLEASE!” Sims wrote in a message accompanying the video.

But beyond criticisms of Sims’s tone, his tactics run counter to the desires of providers: Many health-care centers offering abortion services don’t actually want their supporters pushing back against protesters, a practice they see as

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