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Bart Stupak: "I Don't Listen To Nuns"

Written by Jodi Jacobson, editor of - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

In two interviews yesterday, Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak revealed a great deal about himself, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, politics and the internal workings of our "pro-choice" Democratic party.

First, in what shouldn't be surprising to anyone, Stupak told Fox Newsthat he "doesn't listen to nuns." 

Why would he?  They're only women, after all.  And we know the men run the institutional Catholic church.  If they didn't, there wouldn't be an international pedophilia scandal.

Yesterday, according to ThinkProgress:

“60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns” sent a letter to federal lawmakers urging them to pass the Senate health care legislation. They decried the “false” information floating around about abortion provisions and said that the bill’s “historic new investments” for pregnant women are the “REAL pro-life stance.” The nuns’ letter was a significant and unusual break with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which continues to denounce the legislation.

Bart, however, consults the experts in controlling women: Men of privilege.  "Male religious figures and far-right religious organizations," notes ThinkProgress.

According to Fox:

Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich, responded sharply to White House officials touting a letter representing 59,000 nuns that was sent to lawmakers urging them to pass the health care bill.

The conservative Democrat dismissed the action by the White House saying, “When I’m drafting right to life language, I don’t call up the nuns.” He says he instead confers with other groups including “leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee.”  [emphasis added.]

Consult the nuns?  People who, despite their vows of chastity, also menstruate, and work directly with--indeed touch every day--the people who are most in need?

Yet, despite his unyielding efforts to front for the USCCB and the male "right-to-life-except-for-women" elite, Bart apparently wants us to feel sorry for the backlash he is experiencing in his crusade against women's most basic rights. 

The Hill reports that "Leading a revolt against President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation over abortion has been a “living hell” for Rep. Bart Stupak."

The telephone lines in his Washington and district offices have been “jammed” and he’s gotten more than 1,500 faxes and countless e-mails — most of which he says don’t come from his constituents.

The fight has taken a toll on his wife, who has disconnected the phone in their home to avoid harassment.

“All the phones are unplugged at our house — tired of the obscene calls and threats. She won’t watch TV,” Stupak said during an hourlong interview with The Hill in his Rayburn office. “People saying they’re going to spit on you and all this. That’s just not fun.”

Welcome, Mr. Stupak, to the daily life of reproductive health providers, who are subject to such harassment every day courtesy of your friends at Focus on the Family, National Right to Life, and the USCCB. 

Stupak told the Hill "he didn’t anticipate how big the abortion issue would become during the healthcare reform debate, nor did he figure to find himself a household name."

“I’m a little surprised,” Stupak said.

The worst part has been the pressure from groups and individuals from outside his district on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“How’s it been? Like a living hell,” Stupak said.

The 57-year-old Democrat told theHill he "has a history of working behind the scenes with Democratic leaders on abortion."

“In the past, we’ve always been able to work it out,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve not been able to work it out.”

I am sure many of us would like to know what exactly has been worked out "behind the scenes" with Bart Stupak, the USCCB and others to placate a minority position that affects the health and rights of all women in this country. 

Don't you?

Other anti-abortion-rights Democrats have said they’ll support the Senate bill.

Rep. Dale Kildee, another Democrat from Michigan known for opposing abortion, released a statement on Wednesday supporting the Senate bill, which he said would prevent federal funds from going to abortion services.

But the intensity of the resistance to Stupak’s position has, if anything, stiffened his resolve. He shows no signs of voting for the Senate healthcare bill, which could hit the House floor this week.

“I’m pretty stubborn,” said Stupak, who keeps in his shirt pocket a list of lawmakers who are willing to vote no. The so-called Stupak Dozen met Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill to strategize and exchange stories of the pressure they are under.