Joe Manchin Refuses to Support Amendment to End Taxpayer-Funding of Abortions

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 31, 2018   |   11:45AM   |   Washington, DC

Pro-life voters are growing increasingly frustrated with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin for not supporting an amendment to end taxpayer-funded elective abortions in West Virginia.

A Democrat who sometimes votes pro-life, Manchin is running for re-election against solidly pro-life Republican Patrick Morrisey, who supports the amendment.

On Monday, pro-life advocates held a news conference outside Manchin’s Charleston campaign office to ask why he is not supporting Amendment 1, the West Virginia Gazette reports.

“We’re here to urge all West Virginians to vote yes on Amendment 1, which would stop taxpayer funding of abortion on demand and save the lives of 1,500 unborn children a year,” said state Delegate Kayla Kessinger, a pro-life Republican from Fayette.

On the November ballot, West Virginians will be asked if they want to amend their state constitution to stop taxpayer-funded elective abortions. 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.

Here’s more from the report:

[Kessinger] said for months a team of 75 canvassers have been going door to door in West Virginia and have reached almost 50,000 voters. They’ve talked about the amendment and Sen. Joe Manchin’s stance on abortion, she said.

She said voters have been “horrified” to learn the state has paid for elective abortions for more than 20 years.

“They’re horrified that in 2017 alone Medicaid paid for 1,560 babies to be aborted and this isn’t slowing down,” she said.

The anti-abortion groups criticized Manchin Monday for not saying where he stands on Amendment 1.

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“MetroNews reported in January that Medicaid-funded abortions tripled in the last five years,” [Susan B. Anthony List spokeswoman Mallory] Quigley said. “They’ve tripled at taxpayer expense. Voters have a chance to turn that tide. They can do that by passing Amendment 1, by electing true pro-life champions. That does not include Sen. Joe Manchin. Where does Sen. Manchin stand on Amendment 1? He won’t say for sure.”

His office did not return a request for comment from the newspaper.

Last week, Politico pressed Manchin for his position on Amendment 1.

“We’ll just see what happens, OK? Why do you want an answer on that? There’s so many important things,” Manchin answered. “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.”

According to West Virginians for Life, if Amendment 1 passes, 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.

Sixteen other states also force taxpayers to fund elective abortions through Medicaid. Voters in Oregon and Alabama also will consider pro-life ballot measures this fall.