Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is drawing fire from both Democrats and pro-choice activists for a jumbled up comment regarding women’s healthcare.
The former Florida governor was discussing the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood – a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive, maternal and child health services – at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, when someone asked him a rather lengthy question about the videos showing organization officials discussing fees for fetal tissues.
After vowing to defund Planned Parenthood should he be elected president, the presidential hopeful took it a step further and questioned the need to spend $500 million on women’s health services.
“The argument against this is, well … it’s a war on women and you’re attacking women’s health issues,” said Bush. “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.”
His comment immediately drew attention of activists and campaigners – including Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton – who called out Bush for “attacking women.”
The backlash was so intense that the presidential candidate had to release a statement saying that he misspoke at the event.
“With regards to women's health funding broadly, I misspoke,” Bush clarified. “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.”
He added that he was referring to the $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood.
However, it looks like the damage has already been done.
Jeb Bush was cool with the Iraq War, which cost $1.7 trillion. He's not sure we should be spending $500 million on "women's health" though— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 5, 2015
While the comments may have started a heated debate on social media, the Democrats have seized upon Bush’s gaffe to argue that he isn’t suitable for office.
“Jeb Bush is sure about one thing – he wants to restrict access to affordable healthcare for women,” said Kaylie Hanson, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. “This backward 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”
Watch the presidential candidate’s initial response in the video posted below:
This is also not the first time Bush has veered off script and said something controversial.
Not too long ago, at a town hall meeting in Tempe, Arizona, Bush suggested President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act can easily be replaced by technology such as the Apple Watch apps.