On Roe v. Wade anniversary, primary challenger calls out Rep. Mike Doyle for backing Hyde Amendment

Democratic 18th Congressional District candidate Jerry Dickinson (Photo via The Pittsburgh Current)

By Charlie Deitch

PITTSBURGH —On the 47th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Democratic 18th Congressional district hopefu Jerry Dickinson is calling out incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle for his long-standing support, until last year, of the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion procedures except in certain circumstances.

Dickinson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, began his criticisms last weekend when he called out Doyle, for his long-standing support of Hyde at the Pittsburgh Women’s March. Dickinson is challenging Doyle for the incumbent’s western Pennsylvania congressional Seat.

“I am calling out Mr. Doyle for supporting something that negatively impacts women and women of color,” Dickison told the Pittsburgh Current. “And interestingly enough, he supported that amendment until last August, after I remarked in two public interviews that I would never support that amendment. He voted for it for 24 years up until I called out elected officials who supported it and he goes out and adds himself as a co-sponsor to a bill that would eliminate the Hyde Amendment.”

(See video below, conversation starts at 40-minute mark):

Doyle’s support for the Hyde Amendment and his stance against abortion are well documented. In 2011, for example, he voted down a law that would have prevented women from getting tax credits or deductions on expenditures for abortion services.

He talked about his vote against the bill, but also made his feelings about Hyde and abortion at the time very clear:

“I oppose abortion, and I oppose federal funding for abortion – but federal law already prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion,” Congressman Doyle observed.  “This is a huge step beyond restricting federal funding for abortion – it would limit how Americans spend their OWN money and deny American women access to a full range of health care services, and I can’t support that.  That is why I voted against H.R. 3.”

Pa. Rep. Mike Doyle wants 2020 Dems to talk about more than Trump

Doyle has consistently voted in favor of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the woman.  The Hyde Amendment restrictions were preserved in last year’s health care reform bill, which Congressman Doyle supported and was signed into law. Those provisions were reaffirmed by a Presidential Executive Order and by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Last August, though, Doyle changed his position on the Hyde Amendment and signed on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 1692, the  “Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance” act, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment. Doyle’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s not enough,” Dickinson said. “This issue is bigger than that. We are facing an extreme reisitance from the Republican party, which is working toward more restrictive abortion laws across the U.S.

“With a 5-4 Republican majority on the Supreme Court, in a safe, blue district, there needs to be loud progressive voices,” he concluded. “It’s problematic to have someone who is conveniently conservative and passively progressive, who is willing to change their vote just to save their job. If it takes you 24 years to figure out that the Hyde Amendment isn’t good for women and is horrible for women of color, I have to question if you’re the right person for this job ”

Charlie Deitch is the editor of the Pittsburgh Current, where this story first appeared