Rep. Stupak Feeling Heat After Health Vote

For years, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak has been a favorite of anti-abortion groups. But after the Democratic congressman's health care vote, some of those groups have withdrawn invitations, endorsements and awards. And now, Stupak has been threatened. In Stupak's district, constituents react to his vote.

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Another congressman receiving threats is Bart Stupak. He is the Michigan Democrat who voted for the health care bill only after President Obama promised to restrict federal funds from being used for abortions.

In Stupak's hometown of Menominee, Michigan, NPR's David Schaper reports that whether or not voters agree with Stupak's vote, they say the threats go too far.

DAVID SCHAPER: The calls, faxes and emails keep coming nonstop, even into Congressman Stupak's district offices here in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Callers shout baby killer and profanity-laced tirades. One calls Stupak a cowardly punk, and others predict he will rot in hell for supporting the health care bill. And the faxes aren't any better. One shows a picture of a noose, below it the words: All baby killers come to unseemly ends either by the hand of man or the hand of God.

Such threats aren't sitting well with the Michigan congressman's friends and constituents.

Mr. JIM SKARITZKI(ph): Bart Stupak, I'd back Bart Stupak 100 percent.

SCHAPER: Jim Skaritzki is a wine and spirits manager for a local distributor here in Menominee and knows the congressman well.

Mr. SKARITZKI: I think it's a shame what's happened for a very good politician, one that means well for the country and for his state, that he should be subject to this, no matter what he votes on.

SCHAPER: Nancy Douglas(ph) is another longtime friend of Stupak sitting here at Murray's, an Irish pub that overlooks a waterfront park and the still icy waters of Lake Michigan's Green Bay. Douglas says Stupak's wife, Laurie, a former mayor here in Menominee, won't even answer the home phone anymore.

Ms. NANCY DOUGLAS: You know, I'm not surprised. This is really a volatile issue. But I do think it's coming from outsiders. I don't think it's coming from back here.

SCHAPER: Many voters of Stupak's district say they support his vote for the health care bill despite significant opposition to abortion rights here. But there are many, too, who are upset with his vote. Among them is Geri Tuma(ph) of Menominee. She worries about the cost of the legislation on the middle class. And Tuma says she doesn't think Stupak got a strong enough guarantee on abortion.

Ms. GERI TUMA: You know, I really - yeah, I am disappointed in that one.

SCHAPER: Could it change how you vote?

Ms. TUMA: No. No, because Bart Stupak has - did a lot for this area, and that would not change my vote for him at all.

SCHAPER: In fact many here in Stupak's district say they still support him because he's one of them, a UPer, from this unique slice of the rugged Northwoods known as the Upper Peninsula or the UP. But some say for the first time in a long time, they will consider voting for someone else in November.

David Schaper, NPR News, in Menominee, Michigan.

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