Below is an article appearing in the Guardian on August 4, 2015, authored by Sabrina Siddiqui, from Washington:
Jeb Bush on Tuesday questioned the need for the federal government to spend $500m on women’s health annually – and despite his best efforts to clarify the remark, Democrats seized the moment to cast the Republican presidential candidate as anti-women.
Bush, the former governor from Florida, was in the midst of discussing the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Earlier in the day anti-abortion activists released the latest in a series of secretly filmed videos showing representatives from the women’s health group discussing fetal tissue sales.
Bush’s remarks on women’s health spending occurred when the moderator asked if Republicans in the US Congress should attach an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood to a spending bill that would keep the federal government open, a day after a standalone vote to defund the group failed in the Senate.
“The argument against this is, well … it’s a war on women and you’re attacking women’s health issues,” Bush said. “You could take dollar for dollar – although I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues – but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine, federally sponsored community health organizations to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortions should not be funded by the government – any government, in my mind.”
Bush later attempted to walk back the comments in a statement issued shortly after his appearance at the convention, saying he “misspoke” and intended to question the funding specifically for Planned Parenthood and not women’s health in general.
But the comments had already sparked instant backlash from Democrats and pro-choice advocates, including Hillary Clinton, who responded on Twitter by calling her Republican opponent “absolutely, unequivocally wrong”.
Clinton expanded her attack on Bush at a campaign event later Tuesday, telling supporters in Denver, Colorado: “When you attack women’s health, you attack America’s health.
“Just today we got another window into what Republican candidates really believe. Jeb Bush said he is not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues. I am reading it because I want to quote it exactly,” Clinton said. “Now, he has got no problem giving billions of dollars away to super wealthy and powerful corporations, but I guess women’s health just isn’t a priority for him.
“Now, I would like to ask him: Governor Bush, try telling that to the mom who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get screening in time. Was her health not worth the money? Tell it to the teenager who avoided an unintended pregnancy because she had access to contraception. Tell it to everyone who was protected by an HIV test.”
She further added: “The truth is, what Jeb said, the other Republican candidates believe too.”
The Democratic National Committee also pounced, referring to Bush as “the exact opposite of what women need from their next president”.
“Jeb Bush is sure about one thing – he wants to restrict access to affordable healthcare for women, which isn’t surprising considering his ‘shame and blame’ playbook,” Kaylie Hanson, the group’s director of women’s media, said in a statement. “This backwards ideology isn’t only the exact opposite of what women need from their next president – it could put the health of millions of women in jeopardy. Enough of this.”
Bush later fired back with a tweet of his own, telling his Democratic rival Clinton that Planned Parenting showed “no regard for lives of unborn”.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush)
August 4, 2015
.@HillaryClinton what’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong is giving taxpayer $ to an org whose practices show no regard for lives of unborn
Attempting to clarify his comments, Bush said: “With regards to women’s health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded,” Bush said. “They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need.”
“I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500m in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood – an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs,” he added. “Democrats and Republicans agree we absolutely must defund them and redirect those funds to other women’s health organizations.”
Planned Parenthood was unmoved by Bush’s attempt to clarify, insisting instead that the former governor’s comments reflected his true agenda on women’s reproductive rights.
“Jeb Bush didn’t misspeak – he told the rest of America what Florida women have known for years, which is that he doesn’t believe women’s health is worth much,” said Devon Kearns, a spokeswoman for the group.
“In three sentences today Jeb Bush made it very clear that women will lose access to health care if he becomes president. These remarks show that Jeb Bush is no moderate. On women’s health issues he is just as extreme and out of touch as the rest of the Republican primary field, and the policies he supports would hurt women across the country.”
Despite Bush’s efforts to walk back his comments, the moment could linger well into the general election if he is the nominee. Republicans have struggled in recent elections to connect with women voters, and Democrats are keen to resurrect the so-called “War on Women” narrative that has damaged the party’s standing among single women in particular.
Before the comments that landed the candidate in hot water, Bush said the next president should defund Planned Parenthood – a line that was met with loud applause among the evangelical crowd. He went on to cite his record defunding the organization as governor of Florida and added that as president, he would ensure federal funding for the agency is eliminated.
“If I’m president, we’re going to respect the constitution and get back to regular order way where democracy works again where you submit a budget, you work with Congress, you pass a budget and in that budget, there will not be $500m going to Planned Parenthood,” Bush said.
Although Planned Parenthood receives just under $530m a year, the vast majority of its resources are spent on contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and cancer screenings, among other women’s health issues. The organization is also barred from using federal funds for abortions.
Florida senator Marco Rubio, another key contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, addressed the Southern Baptist Convention before Bush. Rubio, who voted for the Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood on Monday, likened those who push for abortion rights at all stages to “extremists”.
Rubio condemned the “murders of millions of children who will never have a chance to fulfill their God-given right”.
The Planned Parenthood videos, he added, proved that abortion had become “a money-making industry” in America.
The controversial videos were filmed in secret by anti-abortion activists and are heavily edited. Planned Parenthood has vehemently denied that it illegally sells fetal tissue for profit, and has pointed out that in the full, unedited clips, its employees repeatedly emphasize that they do not engage in such a practice.
You can read the original article here.