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PolitiFact Florida Takes on Jeb, Marco on Planned Parenthood, Abortion Stances


The politics of abortion and use of fetal tissue for research has come front and center with the showing of clandestine videos taken during meetings with Planned Parenthood. But just where do the candidates for president stand? WUSF talks with Josh Gillen of PolitiFact Florida about the history of two of the candidates from Florida.

The political fallout from the videos showing officials from Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue has landed on the presidential aspirants from Florida.

During the recent presidential debate, Jeb Bush said during his term as governor, he defunded Planned Parenthood and "created a culture of life in our state."

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 PolitiFact Florida's ruling on this:

Targeted cuts
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. Our ruling 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.

On to Florida's other top presidential aspirant, Sen. Marco Rubio. During the presidential debate, he told host Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly that he's never advocated for abortion exceptions for rape or incest.


Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:

Rubio’s record on abortion We soon found two Senate bills Rubio supported that includes exceptions for rape and incest. In November 2013, Rubio was one of 40 cosponsors of a Senate bill entitled "Pain-capable unborn child protection act." Several GOP presidential candidates backed the bill, including main sponsor Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and co-sponsors Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The bill bans abortions at 20 weeks or greater but includes exceptions, including rape and incest: "(1) where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury, excluding psychological or emotional conditions; or (2) where the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect. …" The 2013 bill stalled in committee; Graham sponsored a similar version in 2015 -- and again Rubio is listed as one of dozens of co-sponsors. This version also has a rape exception, although the language differs. It requires for adult women to obtain counseling or medical treatment for the rape 48 hours before the abortion, with separate criteria for minors about reporting the rape to law enforcement. We asked a Rubio spokesman about his claim in light of the 2013 bill. "Marco has supported pro-life legislation with and without exceptions because they enhance protections for innocent life," Alex Conant told PolitiFact. "Pro-life groups supported that legislation -- Marco has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life in the 112th and 113th Congresses, and a 100 percent rating from the Family Research Council in the 113th Congress." Rubio has long been an opponent of abortion rights, and his record bears that out. National Right to Life gave him a 100 percent rating for the 112th and 113th congresses. In both sessions, the ratings were based on five votes, such as cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, repealing or defunding the Affordable Care Act and protecting free speech. The Family Research Council also gave Rubio a 100 percent rating for 13 votes in 2013-14. And NARAL, a group that supports abortion rights, gave Rubio a zero every year between 2011 and 2014. We found two examples of bills that Rubio voted for that did not appear to obtain a rape exception. In 2000, then state Rep. Rubio voted for a ban on late-term abortions, according to an article in the Miami Herald. The original version of that bill didn’t contain a rape exception, though it allowed a doctor to take steps to save the life of the mother. The Senate version of the bill had no rape exception, but it did have the exception about saving the mother’s life. That was signed into law by then Gov. Jeb Bush in May 2000. But within a couple of months, state officials gave up on enforcing the ban due to court decisions including a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The other example is a 2013 U.S. Senate bill that is similar to Graham’s proposal to ban abortion at 20 weeks or later; however, it only pertains to the District of Columbia. That bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has dozens of co-sponsors including Rubio. The bill makes an exception to save the life of the mother but not for rape or incest. In an interview after the debate, Rubio told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, "I'm in favor of a 20-week abortion ban. Does that mean I'm in favor of abortions at 19 weeks? No. Any bill that reduces the number of abortions is a bill that I'm going to support." Our ruling Rubio said during the debate about exceptions for rape and incest on abortion: "I have never said that or advocated that." Recently, Rubio has supported a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, and the bill did include exceptions for rape or incest. So Rubio has supported legislation with exceptions. However, we could find no evidence that Rubio has generally favored those types of exceptions, and we couldn’t find him specifically advocating for them. Rubio’s claim has an element of truth, but it leaves out important details. So we rate it Mostly False.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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