Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush threw his support behind the effort to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood during an appearance Tuesday before the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn., questioning whether the U.S. government should spend as much as it does on women's health care assistance.
"The next president should defund Planned Parenthood," he said. "Abortion should not be funded by government, any government in my mind."
Bush suggested the over $500 million Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers receive from federal, state, and local governments could be redirected to other clinics that cater to women's health, but he also seemed to question whether it's necessary to spend that amount at all.
"The argument against this is ... well it's a war on women, you're attacking women's health issues," he said. "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 wide variety of health issues."
The suggestion drew a quick rebuttal from Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and a staunch supporter of a woman's right to choose.
Bush later clarified his remark, saying he was only questioning the "$500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood."
"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," he explained. "They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don't have the access they need."
Planned Parenthood has come under scrutiny recently following the release of several videos, recorded in secret, that showed some of its employees discussing the donation of fetal tissue to biomedical research. Critics said the videos revealed the organization's cavalier attitude toward human life, but Planned Parenthood has emphasized it does not profit from the lawful donation of fetal tissue to research. Defenders of the organization have also emphasized the roughly 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's patient care that does not involve abortion, including disease testing, contraception, and cancer screenings.