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Joe Manchin Becomes First Democratic Senator to Endorse 20-Week Federal Abortion Limit

3:35 PM, Apr 1, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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On Tuesday afternoon, West Virginia's Joe Manchin became the first Democrat in the United States Senate to support a federal bill that would ban most abortions during the final four months of pregnancy. "If it comes to the floor, I'm voting for it," Manchin told THE WEEKLY STANDARD following the Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon. 

Manchin had previously said that he had unspecified constitutional concerns about the bill, which would ban most abortions from being performed later than 20 weeks after conception, the point at which human beings can feel pain and survive outside the womb. Other red state Senate Democrats, such as Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, have refused for months to take position on the measure, which has strong support in national polls.

Manchin's endorsement of the federal bill comes less than a week after West Virginia's Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a 20-week abortion limit that overwhelmingly passed the Democrat-controlled state senate and house. Manchin declined to take a position on Tomblin's veto. "I did not look into the issue. I'm sure he had reasons to do what he did," he said on Tuesday.

Manchin also declined to say whether or not he would take the additional step of cosponsoring the federal late-term abortion limit. "I'm pro-life, always have been. They just politicized that thing. That's just horrible," he said. Manchin didn't specify who had "politicized" the issue, but he may have been referring to the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that launched a $20,000 radio ad campaign Tuesday morning pressuring Manchin to cosponsor the bill.

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