It was earlier this month when Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush not only went after Planned Parenthood for reasons he couldn’t explain, he also said publicly, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”
A day later, the former governor said he’d strip the health care organization of funding, but would then “redirect those funds to other women’s health” groups. This approach, Bush added, would be “in line with my Florida record.” As it turns out, that wasn’t entirely true.
Any way the GOP candidate could make this just a little worse? Of course there is.
Jeb Bush attacked Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, doubling down on his assertion that the organization should not receive any federal funding because it’s not actually tackling women’s health issues.“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,” the Republican presidential candidate said.
Unprompted, Bush added that Planned Parenthood is “involved in something way, way different than” women’s health issues.
I have no idea what Jeb is talking about, and more to the point, Jeb doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about, either. Going after Planned Parenthood – a group championed for years by Bush’s father and grandfather – is itself odd, and to date, the Florida Republican has struggled to explain why, exactly, he intends to deny the organization public funding.
But for Bush to pretend Planned Parenthood isn’t “actually” working on “women’s health issues” is just bizarre, even for him.
As the Politico report excerpted above makes clear, Planned Parenthood provides “preventive health services, such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.” By some measures, as many as one in five American women have used Planned Parenthood’s health services at least once in their lives.
Is Jeb Bush confused about the meaning of the phrase “women’s health issues”? Or he going after Planned Parenthood while not having any idea what the organization does?
Because at this point, I’m afraid the only other alternative is that the Republican candidate knows Planned Parenthood works on a range of women’s health issues, and he’s deliberately telling the public the opposite.
More broadly, Bush has had weeks to come up with coherent, accurate rhetoric on this issue, but he seems to have some kind of blind spot. Why can’t he get women’s health right?
Disclosure: My wife works at Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece.