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Jeb Bush announced his campaign for president today, following recent attention on his record and agenda shaming women during his tenure as the governor in Florida, including a “Scarlet Letter Law” which legally required public shaming of unwed mothers. As conservative columnist George Will said on Fox News Sunday, “It has been said many more than three times that Jeb Bush is a liberal or a moderate and that is just not factual. His record in Florida as governor for eight years, from school choice to cutting taxes, to right to life, to shrinking government was measurably more conservative than Ronald Reagan in California for eight years.”

In an op-ed today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund executive vice president Dawn Laguens writes:  

“Today, Jeb Bush is launching his campaign for president, casting himself as a reasonable, pragmatic, solutions-oriented leader.  And today, we launch our own campaign — to make sure he doesn’t get away with this large and dangerous lie.

“It’s time for Americans, especially younger voters, to learn the truth about Jeb’s downright shocking record of trying to control women’s decisions, their bodies, and their lives.”

You can read the full piece here.

Jeb Bush’s positions on women’s health:

  • As governor, Bush signed at least SIX anti-abortion laws into law and in 2003 declared that he was "probably the most pro-life governor in modern times.” He advocated for and signed targeted restrictions on abortion providers, one of which the Tampa Bay Times editorial board wrote were “rules clearly written by bureaucrats, not health professionals.” Bush said that he signed the bill “gladly, with pride and conviction," because he was motivated to “create a culture of life in our state.”
  • As governor, Bush aggressively intervened in two high-profile cases to prevent a developmentally disabled rape victim and a young woman, who was a ward of the state and became pregnant after running away from another state group home, from being able to access safe, legal abortion. In one of those cases, he tried to get a state-appointed legal guardian for the young woman’s fetus.
  • Jeb Bush intervened in what has been called one of the “most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars,” and attempted to take custody of Terri Schiavo and overrule her husband’s decision to remove her feeding tube, 15 years after cardiac arrest had left her in a vegetative state.
  • Jeb Bush allowed a law to pass in Florida in 2001 that forced single mothers — including minors and rape victims — planning to place their children for adoption to advertise their sexual histories in a newspaper if they didn’t know the identity of the father. Bush, who was Florida’s governor at the time, declined to veto the bill, which quickly became known as the “Scarlet Letter Law.”
  • Bush wrote an entire chapter in his book on “character” called “The Restoration of Shame” about returning to a time when “public condemnation” was used to prevent people from “irresponsible conduct,” specifically targeting single mothers.
  • Jeb Bush funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into abstinence-only programs, while cutting funds for crucial family planning programs that health centers like Planned Parenthood provide.

Impact on Florida women:

  • In a study of all 50 states’ health care policies known to improve the health and well-being of women and children, Jeb Bush’s home state of Florida is tied for last place for women’s health.
  • According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 34 percent of Florida’s 67 counties do not have any ob-gyns.
  • In 2012, 1,199,480 women in Florida were in need of publicly supported contraception; and thanks to the Affordable Care Act more than 1,801,000 now have access without a copay.
  • In the absence of the publicly supported family planning services provided at safety-net health centers like Planned Parenthood, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion would be 28 percent higher in Florida, and the teen pregnancy rate would be 37 percent higher.
  • In Florida, the publicly funded family planning services provided at safety-net health centers in 2010 helped save $260,272,000 in public funds.
  • Planned Parenthood health centers served nearly 80,000 people in Florida last year; with 61 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers providing care in rural or medically underserved areas statewide.
    • Conducted 30,995 tests for chlamydia — a leading cause of preventable infertility — that resulted in 2,372 positive results and follow-up treatment
    • Performed 17,487 breast exams
    • Provided 54,808 patients with birth control services

In Jeb Bush’s own words:

  • Jeb Bush has a long history of opposing safe and legal abortion. In 2003, he declared himself “the most pro-life governor in modern times” in Florida. [Huffington Post, 3/25/15; Associated Press, 10/24/03]
  • Jeb Bush claims that the Affordable Care Act, a law that is a historic advancement for women’s access to health care, is “flawed to its core.”  The law ensures that women can’t be charged more for health insurance or denied coverage for so-called “pre-existing conditions” like breast cancer or domestic abuse. It also ensures that women have access to no-copay birth control, saving women up to $600 a year, and has helped nearly 12 million Americans gain access to affordable health care, including more than more than 1,590,000 Florida residents. [POLITICO, 10/20/13; ASPE Office of Health Policy, 3/10/15]
  • In a Florida case where a 22-year-old woman living in a state-supervised facility was raped and became pregnant, Bush asked a court to appoint a guardian to represent the woman's fetus saying, ''Given the facts of this case, it is entirely appropriate that an advocate be appointed to represent the unborn child's best interests in all decisions.” [New York Times, 5/15/2003]
  • Jeb Bush wants to block women from getting preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, and one of his campaign advisors recently said, "We have got to defund Planned Parenthood, by the way, and Gov. Bush supports those efforts." [Huffington Post, 4/27/15]
  • In his 1995 book called Profiles of Character, Jeb Bush wrote: “One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame...There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.” [Huffington Post, 6/9/15]
  • When Jeb Bush was asked about what he wrote in his book about unwed births, he told MSNBC that his views haven’t changed. [MSNBC, 6/11/15]

About Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Planned Parenthood affiliates provide health care to 2.7 million patients every year — including lifesaving cancer screenings, preventive health care, birth control, and abortion services. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading women’s health provider and advocate. Planned Parenthood Action Fund works to ensure that people continue to have access to those health care and education services — by advocating for laws and policies that protect women’s health, and educating voters about how candidates’ positions would affect women’s health.

If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood Action Fund media line at [email protected].


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