Jeb Bush Is 'Not Sure' We Need Women's Health Funding; I'm Not Sure We Need Jeb Bush

Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting, Monday, July 27,
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Longwood, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Jeb Bush said earlier this week that not only does he want to obliterate Planned Parenthood but he is “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues” at all.

Ah, yes. “Women’s issues.” What a trivial distraction from the real issues facing America.

When women started pointing out to Bush that they actually think women’s health is pretty important, the presidential candidate claimed that he “misspoke.” But a look at his record as governor of Florida shows that he probably meant exactly what he said.

What Bush seems to be proposing is a large-scale version of what he did in Florida, which was to divert money from Planned Parenthood to abstinence-only education programs. He also poured millions of taxpayer dollars into “crisis pregnancy centers” that exist solely to mislead women about abortion, all while implementing disastrous policies for real health care providers.

Bush says that as president he would strip all federal reimbursements from Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health care, from STI screenings to affordable contraception, to millions of women across America. He says he wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with something like the Medicaid program he put in place in Florida, which succeeded so well that a quarter of Florida residents were still uninsured by the time Obamacare kicked in.

It was hard enough to get the right to vote and own property and make decisions about our own bodies. Now we seriously have to defend the idea that “women’s health issues” are important enough to merit 0.0001 percent of the federal budget?

What’s scary is that Bush is not an outlier. Instead, he is what passes for a “moderate” in today’s Republican Party. The GOP’s presidential candidates are tripping over each other to be the one who most wants to defund Planned Parenthood, who is least concerned about “women’s health issues.”  Donald Trump says he would shut down the government rather than provide for women’s health care through Planned Parenthood. Scott Walker not only wants to defund Planned Parenthood, he has a long record of anti-choice policies in Wisconsin, including requiring ultrasounds because they are “cool.” Rand Paul wants to go so far as to declare “personhood” for fertilized eggs (something that would make a pregnant woman something less than a person). And the list goes on.

Bush’s dismissive “women’s issues” comment wasn’t a slip. It was a perfect expression of how the Republican Party views the lives of half of the population.