WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush made a puzzling comment about Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, charging that the nation's largest family planning provider is "not actually doing women's health issues."
At a town hall in Englewood, Colorado, the former Florida governor said Planned Parenthood should not be receiving federal Medicaid and family planning funds. “I, for one, don’t think Planned Parenthood ought to get a penny, though, and that’s the difference because they’re not actually doing women’s health issues,” Bush said. "They're involved in something way different than that.”
Planned Parenthood quickly fired back with a statement that included a long list of the various women's health services provided by the organization's 700 clinics in 2013. The list includes Pap smears, urinary tract infection treatments, HPV vaccinations, LEEP procedures to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix, sexually transmitted infection treatments, breast exams, birth control and pregnancy tests. The organization says that abortions account for only about 3 percent of its services.
Bush's comment was his second flub this month about Planned Parenthood and women's health. He was widely criticized for saying at an evangelical conference recently that he was "not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues," referring to Planned Parenthood's budget.
The candidate released a statement later that day saying he "misspoke" and had meant to suggest cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, not women's health care in general. "In line with my FL record – we absolutely must defund PP and redirect those funds to other women’s health orgs," he said in a tweet the same day.
Contrary to his claim, while serving as governor of Florida, Bush did not redistribute Planned Parenthood money to community health centers. He actually redirected the funds to abstinence-only education programs.
"It’s clear Jeb Bush shouldn’t be making health care decisions for anyone -- just look at what he did to women’s health in Florida,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in the group's statement on Tuesday."However this does beg the question -- if providing millions of women each year with birth control, breast exams and pregnancy tests and more doesn’t count as women’s health in Jeb Bush’s world, what does?”