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Joe Manchin Struggles to Defend Vote to Fund Planned Parenthood

On Monday, embattled Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) struggled to defend his vote in favor of continuing funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Last week, he voted against an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would block taxpayer funding to abortion providers.

Manchin faces a tough re-election bid from the state's Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. West Virginia voted for Trump by a whopping 42 points (68.7 percent for Donald Trump, 26.5 percent for Hillary Clinton).

When Hoppy Kercheval, host of the West Virginia radio program MetroNews Talkline, asked Manchin to defend his vote on Monday, the senator insisted that none of the taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood went to subsidize abortions.

"I've checked it inside and out with the Hyde Amendment [a law preventing public funds from subsidizing abortion] — it can't happen," Manchin insisted. "It's against the law." While it is illegal for taxpayer funding to directly support abortion, many argue that since money is fungible, taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood for other purposes do effectively prop up the organization's abortion practice.

When Kercheval cited Rand Paul's contention that "there is a co-mingling of funds by Planned Parenthood," the embattled West Virginia senator shot back, "He is just wrong."

Manchin challenged Rand Paul to present evidence of "one penny" in taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood that goes to abortions. "If he has proof that there's one penny of money that goes to Planned Parenthood for ... for women who have had preventative care, for women's care, if he can find one penny, one dollar, I'll vote against Planned Parenthood funding," the senator promised.

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in March, abortion providers received $1.5 billion in taxpayer funding over the course of just two years, 2013-2015. The same report showed that Planned Parenthood affiliates under criminal investigation for the sale of unborn baby body parts received $544 million from taxpayers.

It beggars belief for Manchin to suggest that when abortion groups receive this much money from taxpayers, that financial boon does not in any way enable them to perform more abortions than they otherwise would have. The burden of proof should not be on Rand Paul to prove that the money is not fungible, but rather on Manchin to prove that no money helps abortion in any way.

Manchin defended his vote in favor of funding Planned Parenthood by referencing the one clinic the abortion organization runs in West Virginia. "Now, we have one clinic in the state of West Virginia, in Vienna. It provides health care, preventative health care for women and mostly young females," Manchin said. "I can't look at them, Hoppy, and say, 'I'm sorry but because of me being hunt politically, I can't vote so that you'll have funding for the clinic.' I just can't do it."