EDITORIAL: Manchin's Loss of Pro-Life Endorsement a Significant Setback

HNN Staff
Democratic U.S. Senate Challenger Sheirl Fletcher
Democratic U.S. Senate Challenger Sheirl Fletcher

Joe Manchin's U.S. Senate campaign was dealt a blow this week after West Virginians for Life gave his Democratic Primary opponent, former Delegate Sheirl Fletcher, their coveted endorsement for the upcoming May election. 

By sticking to their guns, the state's largest pro-life advocacy group has sent a clear message to all candidates, particularly incumbents:  don't take us for granted.

West Virginians for Life has emerged over several years as a potent political force in West Virginia with thousands of friends in both parties. Their efforts to raise the consciousness of the public and public officials here on life issues ranging from abortion and infanticide to euthanasia and eldercare has been commendable. 

Moreover, in officers like Dr. Wanda Franz, Karen Cross, and Mary Anne Buchanan, West Virginians for Life has contributed their knowledge and expertise at the National Right to Life Committee's efforts, as well.

This year, West Virginians for Life faced a unique situation, but they handled it in a way that befits a self-respecting organizations of its size and strength.  They stood true to their convictions and ignored political gamesmanship by the current junior U.S. Senator, Joe Manchin, who tried to paste over his differences with West Virginians for Life with a particularly weak effort.

After voting for continued Planned Parenthood funding with taxpayer dollars--incredibly, over $300 million in a tight budget year--Manchin tried his famous charm with West Virginians for Life in the form of throwing out a "transparency" provision to go along with the Planned Parenthood bill.  But at the time of the vote, West Virginians for Life rightly called such a gesture meaningless. 

"The bill that Sen. Manchin wants to put forth really is irrelevant," said West Virginains for Life Communications Director Mary Anne Buchanan.  "It's just a cover.  We really feel that he doesn't want to defund Planned Parenthood.  He just puts this up as his means of saying, "I want to do something to take care of this problem when really it's not going to help at all."

West Virginians for Life members across the state have endured a double shot to the gut from Joe Manchin in his first year in office.  First, he voted for Obamacare in the revote shortly after he was sworn in back in early 2011.  Manchin had promised during the 2010 campaign that he would vote against Obamacare, not for it, if it came up again.  Up it came, and down he went--voting to support President Obama's controversial health care plan. 

The Obamacare plan remains controversial for its enormous cost as the largest entitlement program in American history--and for providing abortions at taxpayer expense, a tripwire not only for pro-lifers but advocates for taxpayers.

If that wasn't enough to wonder if Manchin was surrendering his own pro-life credentials, his vote to sustain hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood confirmed that he was changing sides. Get this:  Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in America.  How could Joe Manchin support underwriting one-third of Planned Parenthood's yearly budget with taxpayer dollars and expect the support of most West Virginians in both major parties?

West Virginians for Life could not and would not surrender their hard-fought positions in defense of the defenseless.  So they rewarded two consistent pro-life champions for the U.S. Senate this year:  Fletcher in the Democratic Primary and John Raese in the Republican Primary.

Democrats who are weary of Manchin's flip-flopping on everything from social issues to Cap and Trade can send a powerful signal to Manchin this May.  They have a genuine choice offered by Sheirl Fletcher, a consistently pro-life, pro-business, pro-coal Democrat.  Manchin may need to realize that he doesn't have a monopoly on those issues--and he has lost his credentials on the pro-life front altogether.

That spells trouble for Manchin.  He may still win the Democratic Primary, but you never know.  Sheirl Fletcher hasn't gone out of her way to offend huge organizations like West Virginians for Life, and she is sufficiently conservative on the other important issues to give Manchin a real run now.  Certainly, the West Virginians for Life endorsement has given Fletcher added credibility statewide.



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