West Virginia: Manchin Defends Pro-Planned Parenthood Vote

State   Steven Ertelt   May 19, 2011   |   2:10PM    Charleston, WV

Senator Joe Manchin, in a new interview, is defending the vote he cast earlier this year against legislation that would yank taxpayer funding from the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

The Senate rejected, on a 44-56 vote, the House-approved long-term budget bill that contains the Pence Amendment de-funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Lawmakers needed 60 votes to pass the bill under the rules of the Senate and did not come close to the number needed to do so. That happened in part because three Democrats who claim to be pro-life, including Manchin, voted to continue funding the nation’s biggest abortion business.

The Democratic senator told the Register Herald newspaper that he lost a few “friends” over the vote for funding and went as far as claiming his vote was a pro-life one.

“I did everything humanly possible,” Manchin said. “At the end of the day, I could not in all my good conscious, when I knew not one penny of your taxes was being used at Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions… I couldn’t tell the women who were dependent upon that health care, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t take a chance on giving you your health care.’ I just couldn’t do it.”

“I made a vote that, with the facts I had in front of me, was an accurate vote,” Manchin said. “… I have friends who disagree.”

Before the vote Manchin announced to the media that he has filed a bill that would supposedly put safeguards in place to prevent Title X money that goes to Planned Parenthood from paying for abortions. But that wasn’t the main concern of pro-life groups — they were worried about the issue of fungibility, that taxpayer dollars are going to a business that pays for abortions and the funds can be used to cover staff, facilities, equipment and other things the abortion uses for both its abortion and non-abortion services.

Manchin said after his vote for Planned Parenthood funding that he offered the “Title X Transparency and Verification Act” as a “lifelong abortion opponent” to “ensure that all West Virginians and all Americans can easily access and independently verify information that not one single federal taxpayer dollar is used to fund abortions in this country.”

“I believe there needs to be a strict firewall around the vital services that Title X funds provide — such as cancer screenings and family planning — so that those federal funds are never, ever used for a single abortion, except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother,” he said.

But West Virginians for Life, upset that Manchin voted to fund the abortion business, called the legislation “irrelevant” and “a cover” for his vote.

“Pro-life West Virginians are profoundly disappointed in Senator Manchin’s April 14 vote to allow taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider,” said West Virginians for Life Communications Director Mary Anne Buchanan in a statement to LifeNews.

“Senator Manchin’s bill is meaningless,” Buchanan pointed out. “No one is saying that the Title X funds go directly to pay for abortions.  These funds to Planned Parenthood can be used to underwrite their infrastructure and promote their organization.  Manchin’s vote not to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood means our tax dollars will subsidize an organization in which nearly one of every eight women who walks through its doors has an abortion.”

“Manchin’s vote in support of Planned Parenthood is in opposition to the wishes of the people of this state,” she continued.  “Pro-life West Virginians who supported his election feel betrayed.”

Buchanan said the more important point in the debate is that Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the largest provider and promoter of abortions in the country, performing 332,278 abortions in 2009 and that it has mandated that all of its affiliates locally have one center doing abortions by 2013.

“PPFA has attempted to hide behind the notion that the money provided through federal funding is not used to directly perform abortions.  However, this is just an accounting gimmick.  Planned Parenthood uses the federal funding to keep their clinic doors open, pay salaries and utilities as the organization’s name and business in the community continues to be promoted,” she said.

The Susan B. Anthony List also criticized the West Virginia senator.

“The actions taken by Senators Manchin and Nelson show exactly what’s wrong with Washington,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “They voted to immediately send tens of millions in taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and then sought to implement safeguards to ensure that the money isn’t being spent on abortion.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

“The reality that Senators Manchin and Nelson won’t admit is that money is fungible. Over a third of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes straight out of the pockets of the taxpayers,” Dannenfelser said. “Commonsense says this frees up money for abortion.  Data shows that the more taxpayer funding they receive, the more abortions they perform.  Beyond the fungibility argument, under current regulations, Planned Parenthood can use the tax dollars it receives to subsidize the facilities and staff used to perform abortions.”

ACTION: Contact Manchin at https://manchin.senate.gov/contact_form.cfm