Former Gov. Jeb Bush is using the recent release of activist videos criticizing Planned Parenthood as a chance to advertise his own record on restricting abortion.
During the first Republican primary presidential debate on Aug. 6, 2015, Bush sidestepped a question from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about his time on the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, which has donated millions to Planned Parenthood. Instead, Bush reiterated he had a long history of opposing abortion.
"Here’s my record: As governor of Florida I defunded Planned Parenthood. I created a culture of life in our state," he said. (Watch the exchange in the video here.) Bush earlier this week said the federal government should do the same.
We’ve documented Bush’s opposition to abortion before, as well as his preference for abstinence-only education. But we wanted to check if he cut off state assistance for Planned Parenthood while governor, well before the current controversy. It turns out he did, long prior to recent calls to end federal funding for the group.
Planned Parenthood is a network of affiliated nonprofit organizations that cooperate with each other, led by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Funding comes from a wide range of sources, including private donations, grants, health center revenue and Medicaid.
In Florida, there are currently two affiliates accredited with the national organization after several mergers, so the group is not organized quite the same as it was in 2001. There are now 23 health centers in the state, 16 of which provide abortion services. (Three of these were recently cited by the state Agency for Health Care Administration for allegedly providing second-trimester abortions without a license, violations Planned Parenthood has denied. A fourth was cited for improper recordkeeping.)
Both Bush’s campaign and the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates pointed to the same thing: Two line-item vetoes Bush made to the state budget in 2001.
According to a 2001 state fiscal analysis, Bush vetoed $115,759 in funding for Northeast Florida Planned Parenthood in Duval County and $187,084 for Department of Health contracts with Planned Parenthood in Collier and Sarasota counties. As governor, Bush was well-known for his frequent use of his veto power.
That money was not for abortions, but was being used to provide family planning services to poor women, and had been available for more than a decade.
To give you an idea of the scale of the state assistance, one of the affiliates confirmed in 2001 the payments made up about a quarter of their budget. It used the money to help pay for pap smears and sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, among other services. The other affiliate noted the money went to treat patients who had no health insurance or access to Medicaid.
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida alliance, confirmed the group did not get any state funding after Bush’s 2001 veto. It still does not receive assistance from the state now.
Bush said, "As governor of Florida I defunded Planned Parenthood."
In 2001, he used his line-item veto power to end funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates, and that funding never returned. We must note that the money was for family planning and health care services, not abortions, but he did cut off state money for the group.
We rate the statement True.