Add funding for women’s health to the list of popular things Jeb Bush wants to repeal

Jeb Bush really doesn’t like it when the government is involved in health care. Like, at all. From repealing Obamacare and replacing it with Apple Watches (something terrific, for sure), to phasing out Medicare in its entirety, you’ll be hard pressed to find any government health program that Bush hasn’t made decidedly non-moderate threats against.

And now we can add generalized women’s health funding to that list.

Speaking at the Send North America conference, one of the largest Evangelical gatherings in the country, Bush quipped that “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” referring to the amount of money that Planned Parenthood receives in Medicaid reimbursements on an annual basis:

Here’s the quote with a bit more context:

You could take dollar for dollar—although I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars—for women’s health issues, but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine community health organizations that exist to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortion should not be funded by the government.

Following the predictable backlash, including a direct tweet from Hillary Clinton, Bush walked his comments back, saying that he “misspoke:”

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. 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 $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood – an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs. Democrats and Republicans agree we absolutely must defund them and redirect those funds to other women’s health organizations.

Of course, even this walkback is itself dismissive, to say nothing of false. Abortion already isn’t funded by the government (and maybe it should be!). The federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is for the “critical services” that Bush seems to think only happen at other women’s health facilities. You know, the ones that don’t have names Republicans have been hammering for decades. And, finally, for serious, can’t believe we have to repeat this: Planned Parenthood isn’t “selling” fetal organs. The organs are voluntarily donated, and Planned Parenthood is reimbursed for the costs associated with sending them to research labs. Twelve years ago, 100 Senators got together and 93 of them decided that this was a totally OK thing to do.

Jeb Bush, screenshot via YouTube

Jeb Bush, screenshot via YouTube

That includes six current Republican Senators: John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Thad Cochran, Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby and Chuck Grassley.

Let’s not forget that the Iraq War that Jeb wholeheartedly supported — likely for reasons going beyond the fact that his brother started it — cost us more than half a billion dollars per day. And let’s also not forget that “half a billion dollars” divided by the 157 million women in the United States as of the last census comes out to $3.18 per woman. When one considers that one in five women will visit a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in their lives, that’s still just under $16 per visitor.

That isn’t a lot of money! We should totally be spending more money on women’s health than that! At the very least, we shouldn’t be lying about where it’s going.

Once again, it says a lot that this is the “moderate,” “compassionate,” “serious” candidate that Republicans want to have as their frontrunner.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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