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Abortion rights leaders back Trivedi—and one bashes Pike

Abortion rights leaders back Trivedi—and one bashes Pike

Prominent advocates for abortion rights came out in support of Democrat Manan Trivedi on Friday, and one of them took a swipe at 6th District primary opponent Doug Pike over past writings by the longtime columnist and former Inquirer editorial writer.

Trivedi was endorsed by the National Organization for Women’s political action committee, a powerful force in Democratic politics. “Manan Trivedi has demonstrated to us that he will stand up for the full equality of girls and women,” the group’s chair Terry O’Neill said in a statement. “We are looking forward to joining forces with him in that pursuit.”

The Reading doctor also won the backing of Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who went after Pike in an interview with Politico, specifically citing what she called “disturbing” things Pike wrote about women in the past.

Taken together, the developments briefly reignited a primary debate over abortion that originally flared up late last year, when Pike used a op-ed to call himself the only “publicly” pro-choice candidate in the race. They also underscored the fact that, rightly or wrongly, Pike’s political opponents can try and use his large boy of written work against him.

“Whether Pike says he’s pro-choice or not,” Michelman told Politico, “I as a woman would not trust that he understands and respects the fundamental rights of women in a way that will result in his standing for and protecting those rights.”

She was referring in part a 1988 column in The Inquirer in which Pike said the abortion rate should “turn the stomachs” of those who supported the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, as well as his 1990 column supporting the reelection of state Representative who he also called a “zealous opponent of abortion.” She also cited two articles Pike wrote for The Orlando Sentinel in the 1980s, including one in which he said that the “best looking women … tend not to identify with have-nots. … Why are women who look like models virtually incapable of developing the compassionate liberalism of, say, stubby Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland?”

Pike campaign manager Andrew Eldredge-Martin told the Web site that “Doug Pike has been publicly and proudly pro-choice in his writings for 19 years and as a candidate for Congress has been rated 100 percent pro-choice by NARAL Pro-Choice America. For anyone to suggest that Doug has not been consistent in his pro-choice views is nothing more than an effort to mislead voters.”

He added that Pike has not used abortion “as a litmus test for supporting candidates,” and referring to the Orlando Sentinel columns, Eldredge-Martin said that “over 20 years ago, Doug made a poor attempt at humor in a column. He regrets it and apologizes.”

The latest emphasis on abortion came 11 days before the contours of the primary showdown between the two candidates have largely been defined, with Pike enjoying an overwhelming money advantage while Trivedi boasts support from the majority of the local party establishment.

Trivedi added another party figure to that list Friday, with an endorsement from state Representative Kathy Manderino (D-Montgomery).

“Having served on the Health and Human Services committee in the state legislature, I can tell you that Pennsylvania will benefit by having the unique perspective of a doctor serving them in Congress on important matters like continuing the work of health care reform,” Manderino said in a statement.
In these final days before the primary election, I will be encouraging undecided voters in the 6th congressional district that a vote for Manan Trivedi is in our best interest.”

The two are competing for the party’s nod to take on Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-6). The race is currently ranked No. 6 in the Congressional Power Rankings.

May 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

--Dan Hirschhorn

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