As the race for the White House heats up, one candidate just can’t escape the fact-checkers: Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor continues to flat-out lie to his supporters as he travels the country holding rallies and organizations like Politifact are not hurting for new material after every speaking engagement. Over the last month or so, his biggest fib has been his unequivocally false “Obama is to blame for ISIS” line, but this week he has decided that he’s going to make up stories about the right’s nemesis, Planned Parenthood.
During a town hall meeting in Englewood, Colo., on Aug. 25, an audience member asked Bush about his women’s health record and what he would do for women if he were elected president. Bush responded with a statement that Politifact has rated “pants on fire” and Washington Post’s Fact Checker rated “four Pinocchios”:
“When I was governor, we expanded those programs through community-based organizations, and that’s something I think the federal government needs to continue to do,” Bush said. “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. They’re involved in something way different than that.”
First of all, what Bush means by “community-based organizations” is “pro-fetus, anti-choice groups who want to infringe on women’s rights.” He cut off funding when he was the governor of Florida, passed a law to have a Teri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted against her husband’s wishes, approved “Choose Life” license plates and used the proceeds from the plates to fund counseling for women who were giving their babies up for adoption, but banned women who were seeking abortions from getting counseling services.
Clearly he doesn’t really care about women and politicizes our reproductive rights as a way to garner more votes for himself; but the most erogenous part of his statement was telling the people at the town hall that Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide women’s health services.
As Politifact points out, “women’s health” is “the branch of medicine that focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of diseases and conditions that affect a woman’s physical and emotional well-being.” Planned Parenthood does exactly that.
The vast majority of the services provided by Planned Parenthood have nothing to do with abortion. The most recent Planned Parenthood report says that the organization saw 2.7 million individual patients in 2013 and provided almost 11 million services. Of those services, only 12 percent were abortion related. The other 88 percent were, STI testing and treatment, breast exams, HIV testing, contraception, cancer screenings and plethora of other things.
The GOP presidential candidate has access to all of this data and he knows that he lied to his supporters, but just like his brother, he doesn’t have a problem with lying to get what he wants. Planned Parenthood is a vital women’s health organization and eliminating their funding would mean that millions of women would no longer have access to incredibly important services.
The casual ignorance of reality, down to words he chooses (do you “do” a health issue?) clearly indicates that he’s just another Republican, for whom women and women’s health and women’s rights are a non-factor, other than a phrase of obligatory lip-service here and there. And he can’t even pull that off right.
Colin Taylor is the managing editor of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.