Manchin Loses Backing of Longtime Political Ally

By: LAWRENCE MESSINA - Associated Press Writer
By: LAWRENCE MESSINA - Associated Press Writer

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin heads toward the 2012 election without a longtime political ally.

West Virginians for Life has denounced the freshman Democrat after he helped defeat an attempt to deny federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

The state's leading anti-abortion group issued a statement and ran at least one newspaper ad saying Manchin has betrayed West Virginians who oppose abortion rights.

The 1976 Hyde Amendment restricts taxpayer spending on abortion. Anti-abortion groups target Planned Parenthood because it provides abortion services through other revenues.

A lifelong abortion foe, Manchin said that the federal grants at issue fund vital health services for women. But at least for now, his vote has incurred the wrath of a group that has supported him throughout his political career.

In response to the group's action, Manchin released a statement Monday.

In a release, he says he introduced the Title X Transparency and Verification Act, legislation that would verify safeguards that prevent federal funds from being used for abortions by increasing public scrutiny for family planning funding and bringing needed transparency to agencies’ use of the funds.

Under the legislation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would post independent audits online for any agencies that receive money under Title X.

Currently, no federal funds can be used for abortions, and independent audits verifying compliance with the law are already required. However, the audits are not readily available to members of the public.

“As a lifelong abortion opponent, I want to ensure that all West Virginians and all Americans can easily access and independently verify information that not one single federal taxpayer dollar is used to fund abortions in this country,” says Manchin. “I believe there needs to be a strict firewall around the vital services that Title X funds provide, such as cancer screenings and family planning, so that those federal funds are never, ever used for a single abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. We must do everything in our power to strengthen and protect that barrier.”

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