West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) struggled during a radio interview Monday to defend his vote last week to keep Planned Parenthood funded despite labeling himself a “pro-life Democrat.”
He was asked three times by Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNew's Talkline to explain his vote against Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. Manchin continually insisted that his vote was about funding healthcare for women in his state and that he didn’t believe the money went directly to abortions.
“How can you continue to argue that you are pro-life when you voted against that amendment that would’ve stopped funding for Planned Parenthood which performs abortions,” Kercheval initially asked. “I know that the money does not go specifically for abortion but it does go to support Planned Parenthood which is the largest abortion provider in the country.”
“First of all there’s not a penny of public dollars that go to support abortions from Planned Parenthood,” Manchin insisted. “I’ve checked it inside and out, with the Hyde Amendment it can’t happen it’s against the law.”
“I am pro-life and I think everyone knows I mean look at my record, I voted with Lindsey Graham on the 20-week ban on abortion,” he added.
Kercheval pressed Manchin and brought up the argument that since money going to an organization is fungible, it supports them in general.
“There is a contention by Rand Paul and others that there is a commingling of funds by Planned Parenthood and if you’re supporting subsidizing Planned Parenthood then in sense you’re subsidizing the abortion procedure because you’re propping them up,” he explained.
“He’s just wrong,” Manchin replied. “We’re not propping them up.”
‘If Rand Paul’s saying that he is wrong if he can prove there’s one penny of money that goes to Planned Parenthood for women who have preventative care, for women’s care, if he can find one penny, one dollar, I’ll vote against Planned Parenthood funding,” he emphasized.
Kercheval reminded Manchin that pro-life organizations oppose any government funding for Planned Parenthood.
Manchin insisted that his vote was best for the state of West Virginia.
“It was one clinic and they wanted me to vote against,” he said, “taking money away from young females and women who get healthcare. That doesn’t make any sense at all."
Manchin is extremely vulnerable in his upcoming midterm election and has come under scrutiny for frequently changing sides on the abortion issue.
In 2015, following the release of undercover videos alleging trafficking in fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood, Manchin called for the organization to be defunded.
“Like many West Virginians, I am very troubled by the callous behavior of Planned Parenthood staff in recently released videos,” he said in a statement at the time. “Until these allegations have been answered and resolved, I do not believe that taxpayer money should be used to fund this organization.”
There is currently an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into the matter.