Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) says he "misspoke" on Tuesday when he said the federal government is spending too much money on women's health. What he meant to say, the 2016 candidate explained in a tweet, is that funds for Planned Parenthood should be redirected to other women's health organizations, "in line with my FL record."
But as governor, Bush redirected Planned Parenthood money to abstinence-only education programs rather than to other women's health organizations.
The St. Petersburg Times reported in January 2003:
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida lost $124,000 last year from its family planning division. Bush diverted the funds to abstinence-only educational programs. Now teens who use Planned Parenthood have a $15 co-pay and must pay $7 for birth control. "We do charge the teens now," said LaWanda Walker, public affairs coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. "That we really, really hate. You need to be able to have services and make it convenient."
Bush's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The presidential hopeful made an unforced campaign error on Tuesday when told an audience of 13,000 pastors at the Southern Baptist Forum in Nashville, Tennessee, that "women's health issues," rather than Planned Parenthood and abortion providers specifically, are being over-funded.
"You could take dollar for dollar -- although I'm not sure we need a half-billion dollars for women's health issues -- but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinary fine community health organizations that exist to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues," Bush said. "But abortion should not be funded by the government."
But Bush did not redirect Planned Parenthood money into community health centers providing birth control, Pap tests and other family planning services as he suggested. He diverted money to abstinence-only education and spent millions on crisis pregnancy centers, which are non-medical, religiously motivated organizations dedicated to convincing women not to have abortions. He also invested $47 million into a breast and cervical cancer early detection program and created "fight breast cancer" license plates, the proceeds of which went to breast cancer research.
The $500 million in public funds that Planned Parenthood receives is for nonabortion-related services, like contraception, sexually transmitted infection tests and treatment, and cancer screenings for low-income women. Republicans have escalated their attacks on the family planning provider after the release of a series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the donation of fetal tissue for scientific research. Anti-abortion politicians, including Bush, interpreted the videos as Planned Parenthood "selling fetal organs" for profit.
"I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood -- an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs," he said in a statement.
EMILY's List, an organization dedicated to electing Democratic women to office, jumped on Bush's "women's health" misstep in a statement on Wednesday.
"Jeb Bush can scramble all he wants to spin his statements," said Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for the group. "But his long record of eroding women’s access to health care and his extreme positions when it comes to women and families show that his slip of the tongue wasn’t actually a slip at all."