Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), who labels himself a "pro-life Democrat," faced questions on Monday about how he reconciled his pro-life identity with his vote to keep Planned Parenthood funded.
Manchin appeared on MetroNews "Talkline," where he was asked three times by radio host Hoppy Kercheval to explain his vote against Sen. Rand Paul’s (R., Ky.) amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. Kercheval grilled Manchin for consistently claiming he was pro-life.
"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 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."
Manchin pushed back against Kercheval, saying "not a penny of public dollars" go to support abortions from Planned Parenthood. He went on to say he has studied the issue and that the Hyde Amendment makes it illegal for such funding to happen. He added that there is one health clinic in the state for "preventive health care" for young women and he "can't look at them" and say he is going to defund their care.
"I am pro-life and I think everyone knows [that]. I mean, look at my record: I voted with Lindsey Graham on the 20-week ban on abortion," he added. "I voted for everything, except I could not take funding away when I knew the funding was not used for abortion."
Kercheval pushed back, noting some argue the federal funding props up Planned Parenthood and the abortions it provides.
"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," Kercheval said.
"He’s just wrong," Manchin said. "We’re not propping them up."
"There's not one penny—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," Manchin said.
Kercheval reminded Manchin that if he wanted to be viewed in a positive light among pro-life organizations, he is going to have to oppose any government funding for Planned Parenthood. Manchin said he believed his vote was the best choice for West Virginia.
"This doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense. We have one clinic, and they wanted me to vote against taking money away from young females and women who get health care. That doesn’t make any sense at all," Manchin said.
Manchin is extremely vulnerable in his upcoming re-election campaign against Republican opponent Patrick Morrisey, as he has comes under scrutiny for changing sides on the abortion issue.
"Liberal Joe Manchin can't hide from his record of voting five times to side with pro-abortion radicals in Washington to send taxpayer dollars to the nation's largest abortion provider," Morrisey for Senate spokesperson Nathan Brand said. "West Virginians overwhelmingly do not want their tax dollars going to abortion providers, but liberal Joe Manchin has proven that he would rather side with pro-abortion Hillary Clinton and Washington liberals, than stand with West Virginians for the sanctity of life."
One of the leading pro-life organizations, Susan B. Anthony List, released an ad last week hitting Manchin for being out-of-touch with West Virginia's voters by continuing to support taxpayers' dollars going to Planned Parenthood.