Joe Manchin Refuses to Support West Virginia Amendment to Stop Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

State   Micaiah Bilger   Oct 24, 2018   |   10:09AM    Charleston, West Virginia

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is not supporting a state ballot amendment that could end taxpayer-funded elective abortions in West Virginia.

Manchin, a Democrat with a mixed voting record on abortion, is running for re-election against pro-life Republican Patrick Morrisey.

Politico reports Morrisey supports the amendment but Manchin, who says he is pro-life, does not.

If approved by West Virginia voters, Amendment 1 makes it clear that the state does not recognize abortion as a “right.” The amendment states, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

The amendment would make it easier for the state to pass pro-life laws, including a restriction on taxpayer funding for abortions. West Virginians currently are forced to fund elective abortions because of a 1993 court ruling. Sixteen other states also force taxpayers to fund elective abortions through Medicaid.

When Manchin recently was asked about his position on the ballot measure, he did not support it.

“We’ll just see what happens, OK? Why do you want an answer on that? There’s so many important things,” Manchin replied. “If it doesn’t have incest, rape and life of the mother exceptions in it, it’s the wrong thing to be on the ballot. I don’t think it does, and they keep saying it does.”

Here’s more from the report:

In the closing stretch, Morrisey is attacking Manchin for not supporting a West Virginia ballot referendum that would amend the state Constitution to say that nothing in it “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” For Republicans, it encapsulates why Manchin is so maddening: He says he’s an anti-abortion rights Democrat, but hasn’t endorsed the ballot measure. …

The ballot question does not include an explicit exemption for those situations, but Morrisey says he’s studied the issue and contends that existing law would provide exceptions for rape, incest and endangering the life of the mother.

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In front of a crowd of several hundred supporters on the state’s Eastern Panhandle on Monday, Morrisey drew some of the day’s loudest applause when he touted his support for the ballot measure.

According to West Virginians for Life, taxpayers still would be required to fund abortions for Medicaid patients in cases of risks to the mother’s life, medical emergency, rape, incest and fetal anomaly.

Manchin’s refusal to support the measure may be a bad decision for his re-election campaign. Polls consistently show that most Americans do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortions. In October 2016, a Politico/Harvard University poll found that just 36 percent of likely voters supported taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.

Manchin has a 33-percent pro-life voting record this session and 44 percent overall from the National Right to Life Committee. While he did vote to support a 20-week abortion ban, he also voted to continue giving tax dollars to the nation’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood. He also was the only Democrat who voted to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In contrast, Morrisey is pro-life and supports legal protection of unborn babies. He opposes using tax dollars to pay for abortion. As West Virginia’s attorney general, Morrisey supported several cases involving pro-life and religious freedom issues. He joined the national lawsuit supporting conscience rights of Little Sisters of the Poor, and partnered with other state attorneys general to defend a Texas abortion facility regulation law and a North Carolina law prohibiting abortions on pain-capable unborn babies after 20 weeks.

West Virginians will vote on the measure in November. Voters in Oregon and Alabama also will consider pro-life ballot measures this fall.