While defending Republicans’ effort to defund Planned Parenthood over a series of “sting” videos targeting the organization, presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doubted the $500 million or so in federal funds currently going to support health services offered at clinics is even necessary.
“You can take dollar for dollar — though I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues — but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations … to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues,” Bush said Tuesday, speaking at a the Southern Baptist Convention.
A Senate bill that failed to overcome a filibuster Monday would have redirected the $500 million to other women’s healthcare providers such as federal community health centers. Planned Parenthood defenders argue those health centers to not have the capabilities to handle the influx of patients that would arise if Planned Parenthood could no longer use federal funds to treat women.
Former Secretary Hillary Clinton, the top Democratic 2016 candidate, has already jumped on Bush’s comment.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 4, 2015
Bush, noting his own state defunded Planned Parenthood under his governorship, expressed support for the defund movement. But he also dodged the question on whether the government should be shut down over Planned Parenthood funding, which some conservatives are now pushing.
“If I am President, we are going to respect the Constitution and get back to regular order way where democracy works again,” he said.
The current fight started after an anti-abortion group began releasing videos filmed undercover of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the costs and protocols involved in donating tissues from aborted fetuses to researchers. Abortion foes say the videos prove Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting off of tissue harvesting, a claim the organization vehemently denies.
Planned Parenthood is already legally prohibited from using federal funding — which it receives through programs like Medicaid and Title X — for abortion except in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother.
Update: Jeb Bush walked back the women’s health spending comment in a statement saying that he “misspoke.”