Saturday, November 11, 2023


In a column celebrating the prospect of a No Labels presidential run by Joe Manchin, Ross Douthat writes:
The West Virginian could run, authentically, as an unwoke supporter of universal health care, fiscal restraint and a middle ground on guns and abortion.
I'd like to talk about that last issue. Joe Manchin isn't a centrist on abortion. His positions are contradictory and incoherent. No supporter of reproductive rights should trust him.

Yes, when the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs ruling, Manchin was critical, even as he declared himself to be "pro-life":
“I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood to be settled precedent. I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans.

“As a Catholic, I was raised pro-life and will always consider myself pro-life. But I have come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life. I believe that exceptions should be made in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. But let me be clear, I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected. I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that.”
But two months later, he expressed interest in a ban when National Review's John McCormack asked him about abortion:
When I briefly caught up with Senator Joe Manchin today in a Capitol hallway, the West Virginia Democrat said he “absolutely” still supports the 20-week federal abortion limit he has voted for on multiple occasions. While Manchin said he has not yet seen text of Senator Lindsey Graham’s new bill to prohibit most abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy and beyond, Manchin said he was “very interested” in the new legislation.
And although Manchin says he would vote to codify Roe, in 2022 he twice voted no on versions of the Women's Health protection act, which would have enshrined abortion rights in federal law. In that second vote, he was the only Senate Democrat who opposed the bill.

Manchin opposes a September 2022 Department of Veterans Affairs rule that allows the VA to provide abortions when the life or health of a veteran, VA beneficiary, or dependent is in danger. His resolution of disapproval was co-sponsored by Senators Tommy Tuberville and Roger Marshall, both anti-abortion Republicans. In addition, Manchin is one of the senators blocking the appointment of Anjali Chaturvedi as the VA's general counsel, as a protest against this rule; the other senators involved in the block are Republicans.

So Manchin is not an abortion moderate. Maybe No Labels will position him as one, but we couldn't trust him if he somehow got elected to the presidency along with a Republican Congress.

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