Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush promised, while speaking at the Faith and Family Presidential Forum last week, to use an executive order to defund Planned Parenthood “on day one” if elected president.
The forum, hosted by the Conservative Leadership Project and the Palmetto Family Alliance at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina ahead of the state’s upcoming primary battle, offered Republican candidates a chance to respond to a clip taken from one of the deceptively edited videos released by the discredited Center for Medical Progress (CMP).
CMP is an anti-choice front group that has worked closely with GOP lawmakers to smear and defund Planned Parenthood. David Daleiden, the activist at the head of the smear campaign, has been indicted by a grand jury and has turned himself into authorities.
“That’s why we ought to defund Planned Parenthood,” Bush said upon viewing the clip from one of the widely discredited CMP videos. Outlining his two-pronged approach to stripping the organization of federal funding, Bush promised to use his executive power as president to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving funds through Title X, a federal grant program that helps provide family planning resources and related preventive health care.
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“Here is the practical way you can do it … Title X monies under Reagan, he by executive order said that any abortion clinic won’t be able to receive the money, and immediately there was a lawsuit and it was upheld. So half of the money can be done by executive order by Title X,” explained Bush. “You don’t have to get into a big battle in Congress for half of it and I pledge to you on day one we will apply the Reagan rule as it relates to Title X monies, and that money will no longer be spent by Planned Parenthood.”
Bush went on to promise to work with Congress to ensure that Planned Parenthood no longer receives Medicaid funding, suggesting that states instead fund crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which lie to patients to persuade them not to seek abortion care.
“Today in Florida, 4 million dollars of state money, state revenue, goes to the crisis pregnancy network in our state to provide for the therapeutic side of their mission … It is a life send [sic], it is hugely important for the agencies. It has allowed them to go raise additional monies, it’s allowed them to have a strong footing to be able to expand their services,” Bush said.
Bush has called for increased state and federal funding for CPCs, pointing to his record of defunding Planned Parenthood in Florida and signing a 1999 law establishing “Choose Life” license plates to provide funding for CPCs as examples of how he would enforce his anti-choice platform should he be elected president.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also detailed his plan to defund Planned Parenthood in reaction to CMP’s videos while speaking at Friday’s forum, telling the audience that money that goes to the organization should be “take[n] away” and redirected to health centers.
Public health officials say that community health centers could not fill the gap in care should Planned Parenthood lose its funding.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to the video clip by pledging that “on day one” after being elected, he would “instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and to follow the law and prosecute any criminal violations”—despite numerous GOP-led state investigations finding no wrongdoing on behalf of the organization.