Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Red-State “Pro-Life” Democrats Vote to Continue Funding Planned Parenthood


Several Democrat senators running for re-election in red states voted to continue taxpayer funding for the abortion giant Planned Parenthood on Thursday.

An amendment proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to a massive bill to fund the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services would have stripped Planned Parenthood of nearly half a billion dollars in federal taxpayer money that they receive each year. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 48 against to 45 in favor.

All Senate Democrats voted against the amendment. (Two Republicans, pro-abortion Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, also voted no.) Most notable in voting against the amendment are several Democrats facing tough re-election battles in states carried by President Trump in 2016: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. (Alabama’s Doug Jones, who campaigned as a moderate in last year’s fiasco of a special election, also voted against the amendment, but he is not up for re-election until 2020.)

Manchin and Donnelly have tried to make claims on the pro-life label, and there are common misconceptions in their home states that they are pro-life Democrats. But their records on abortion are mixed at best, and their votes in favor of funding Planned Parenthood, which performs over 300,000 abortions annually, make clear that they are attempting to deceive voters by painting themselves as pro-life.

The Susan B. Anthony List went after the vulnerable senators following the vote, especially Manchin and Donnelly.

“Vulnerable Democratic Senators have betrayed their constituents yet again by voting to fund abortion giant Planned Parenthood, and will be held accountable at the ballot box. Democrat Senators in states won by President Trump cannot get away with presenting themselves as moderates any longer, and self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ senators like Donnelly and Manchin should be especially ashamed of caving to the abortion lobby and extremists in their party,” Susan B. Anthony List’s president Marjorie Dannenfelser said.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also issued statements condemning Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp.

Republicans have repeatedly failed to defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars since taking control of both houses of Congress in 2015 due to weak leadership and slim majorities. But Thursday’s vote should send a clear message to voters deciding whether to re-elect red-state Democrats — they are out of touch with the views of their constituents on this issue. Republicans would do well to take advantage and go on the offensive.

Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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