I’ve previously said that I’m bad with local politics. Here’s how bad: I just found out that my representative in Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district, Mike Doyle, was one of the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment, which would prohibit insurance plans participating in the exchange from covering abortion (a.k.a. any bought with government subsidies, or those bought by small businesses). The only exceptions are in cases or rape, incest, or when a doctor would certify that the mother was at risk of death. Although I think the policy is misguided through and through, that last sentence is crucial: in cases where the mother’s health is in jeopardy, but there is no danger of death, an abortion would still be prohibited. Unless the plain language of the bill is misleading, neither is there any provision for severe fetal abnormalities, even if they meant that the fetus could never become viable.
I can’t say that Doyle is a uniformly terrible representative. A brief look at his record indicated some high points, including extremely good support for LGBT issues, and support for net neutrality. Still, I think the headline “Stupak Amendment Passes; 64 Dems Ask for Primary Opponents is roughly on target.
Nor is there any reason the 14th district should have a conservative Democrat as it’s representative. Obama won in the 14th congressional district by 70% to 29%. Doyle won in 1994 by ten points, has run unopposed in several subsequent races, including the 2008 election, where he only faced a challenge from the Green party. In 2010, there’s a Republican challenger, which potentially puts pressure on Doyle to continue behaving like a conservative Democrat. That’s all the more reason that he needs pressure from his left.
I doubt Doyle will receive a primary challenge, and I don’t know if that would be strategically sound. But I sure hope he sees a lot of pressure for this decision. Although it’s over a week late, I plan on giving his office a call to say that I’m disappointed, and that when the compromise bill comes up for a vote, Doyle needs to support it, whether or not the Stupak language has been preserved. Since Congress doesn’t have takebacks, that’s the closest we can get.