Pro-Lifers Target Manchin

Ads highlight West Virginia Dem's flip-flops on Planned Parenthood funding

Joe Manchin / Getty Images

Pro-life groups are now turning out against West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin for breaking his promise to curb abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.

Susan B. Anthony List, one of the nation's largest pro-life political groups, has committed $1.6 million to highlight Sen. Manchin's record on abortion. While Manchin has campaigned as a moderate and voiced pro-life opinions in the past, a new set of ads aims to show his rhetoric has not matched his actions in the Senate.

"Manchin calls himself ‘pro-life,' but he has repeatedly voted to spend more of your tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the country," the ad says. "Manchin voted against legislation giving states the authority to defund Planned Parenthood. Remind him that in West Virginia we want to STOP taxpayer funding for abortion."

The Manchin campaign did not respond to request for comment.

Manchin faces a tough reelection against Republican West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey in a state President Trump won by 42 points. He has taken pro-life positions in the past, such as his August 2015 vote to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of revelations about its organ-harvesting operations. That vote, according to SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, rings hollow when compared with the rest of his record. Manchin voted against a resolution defunding the nation's largest abortionist in December 2015, and he later voted against giving states the ability to deny taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.

"Instead of standing with Mountaineers, Senator Manchin votes to send taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood," Dannenfelser said in a statement. "When it comes to safeguarding taxpayer dollars from funding the big abortion industry, Senator Manchin cannot be trusted."

Morrisey, who did not return request for comment, has made pro-life issues a centerpiece of his campaign, even launching a pro-life coalition on Aug. 2. Morrisey also supports President Trump's nomination of federal judge Brett Kavanuagh to the Supreme Court—Kavanaugh would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee who helped enshrine abortion as a constitutional right in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Morrisey said unborn babies must be "cherished and protected" and criticized Manchin for not living up to his principles in Washington.

"Liberal Senator Joe Manchin has failed West Virginians by continuing to fund abortion provider Planned Parenthood, voicing opposition to pro-life judges, and standing with Hillary Clinton and her pro-abortion agenda," Morrisey said in a statement. "This November, pro-life West Virginians will send a U.S. Senator to Washington who shares our commitment to standing on the side of life and supporting President Trump's pro-life judges."

Morrisey has earned the endorsement of major pro-life groups, including West Virginians for Life and the National Right to Life Committee. Tom McClusky, a vice president at March for Life, said that "lip service" is not enough to maintain support. Voters have been turning out for pro-life candidates, Democrat and Republican, for years and now expect results, according to McClusky. The lack of movement on late-term abortion bans and defunding Planned Parenthood could hurt incumbents no matter their past statements.

"Regardless of party, pro-lifers have had enough of the mere lip service from politicians," McClusky said. "If the rhetoric does not match the reality, lawmakers should be held accountable and have their record broadcast to constituents."

SBA List has committed nearly $600,000 for radio and television airtime for the ads targeting Manchin. The Democratic incumbent leads Morrisey by 7 points, according to the most recent Real Clear Politics poll average, which dates back to July 16.