Monday, May 3, 2010

Stupak feels arrows from his own side

If there were two words Bart Stupak never expected to hear, those were the two. Shouted at him. In front of Congress. In front of the world.
"Baby killer."
Bart Stupak had been an Eagle Scout from the Upper Peninsula, a law school grad, a police officer, a small-town Democratic congressman with strong Christian ties and an intractable anti-abortion record who had voted to ban partial-birth abortions, to forbid human cloning and to stop embryonic stem cell research.
"Baby killer."
The person shouting this ugliness was a Texas Republican named Randy Neugebauer. His reason? Stupak had just announced he was supporting the health care bill, but only after President Barack Obama committed to an executive order barring any federal money from paying for abortions.
"Baby killer," Neugebauer yelled.
Forget, for a moment, your personal views on health care. Forget, for a moment, your political side. Imagine a life largely dedicated to discouraging abortion in any way, shape or form, then standing before Congress and being called that.
"Baby killer."
How does it feel?
A sad, sad series of voice mails
"It's a sad day for the Congress when we resort to that," Stupak, 58, told me this past week. "I mean, disagree with me if you will, but we don't need personal attacks. ...
"If we can't conduct ourselves any better on the House floor, how do you expect people in society to behave?"
Don't worry. People in society already are behaving worse. After Stupak's vote (one of 219 votes in favor; he was hardly alone) some of the voice mails left for him were stunning.
"You are one big piece of human (excrement)," said one. Another began, "Stupak, you lowlife baby-murdering scumbag pile of steaming crap. ... You ought to fill your pockets with lead and jump in the Potomac." And then there was this one: "You baby-killing (expletive). I hope you ... get cancer and die."
These death wishes, we assume, are from people who call themselves pro-lifers.
Now, remember. It's not as if Stupak suddenly turned pro-abortion. He is -- and always has been -- adamant on the subject. He was cosponsor of the amendment that insisted no federal money be spent on such procedures. He was vilified plenty from the other side for that.

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