WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Joe Manchin has become the first Democrat in the U.S. Senate to say he supports a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks.
“If it comes to the floor, I'm voting for it,” Manchin told The Weekly Standard earlier this week. However, he did not say that he would work to bring the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
“We are very proud of Senator Manchin for supporting the pro-life ban, and we support his strong commitment, which he has held consistently,” Kristen Day of Democrats for Life of America told LifeSiteNews.
The Susan B. Anthony List took out $20,000 in radio ads encouraging Manchin to take action on the bill, as well as supporting a similar West Virginia state bill. On Friday, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeSiteNews, “Senator Manchin’s public support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a step in the right direction.”
“The goal of our radio ad was to encourage him to actively lead on life. Senator Manchin is the most prominent pro-life Democrat in Congress and his co-sponsorship is critical to securing a vote on this compassionate, modest legislation,” Dannenfelser said.
Wanda Franz, president of West Virginia for Life, told LifeSiteNews.com exclusively last November that her sources said Manchin is not inclined to co-sponsor the bill but believe he would vote for the bill if it comes to the floor for a vote.
“As far as I'm concerned, that's a problem,” Franz told LifeSiteNews. “That is not pro-life leadership, and we expect pro-life leadership from him.”
Dannenfelser added that he would “not be alone. The majority of Americans support protecting babies after 20 weeks – more than halfway through pregnancy.”
The bill, introduced by Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, passed the House of Representatives last summer and was introduced in the Senate in November. However, it has languished there without action.
President Obama has promised to veto the bill should it land on his desk.
For months, pro-life groups have demanded that vulnerable Democratic senators take a position on the 20-week abortion ban, designed to shield unborn children from excruciating pain during the abortion process.
Others who have been asked to take a concrete stance on the bill include Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
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Manchin did not comment on Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto of a similar 20-week abortion ban that passed the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
“I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature,” Manchin said. “I am currently evaluating the constitutionality of the legislation and working with my colleagues to make sure we can pursue a bill that will pass the Senate.”