Will the Catholic Hierarchy Punish Six Stupak Supporters Who Voted Against Health Care Reform?

Much has been made about how the House leadership permitted a vote on the abortion-restricting Stupak-Pitts amendment in order to get the blessing of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The USCCB, we are told, was so dedicated to the prospect of universal health care it shipped bulletin inserts to parishes across America, demanding that parishioners call upon their representatives to vote against the bill if it did not sufficiently restrict abortion.

As far as the abortion restriction, the USCCB apparently persuaded 35 Catholic Democrats to vote for its approved Stupak-Pitts amendment. Given the USCCB’s teaching on the subject, you might then expect all 35 of them to go on to vote for the bill. But only 29 of them did.

Six of them — Jason Altmire and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, John Boccieri of Ohio, Jim Marshall of Georgia, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, and Gene Taylor of Mississippi, all Catholics, voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment and then against the bill. Is there going to be a lot of hand-wringing about how these good Catholics voted against Catholic teaching? Or did they sufficiently fulfill their duty by helping to ensure that Stupak-Pitts was in the bill?

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