Russell Moore Defends Jeb Bush's Remarks on Women's Health Funding

Jeb Bush
Former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Conference in Washington D.C. on June 19, 2015. |

The head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission defended Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush following the politicians comments that women's health may not need $500 million in federal funding.

In an interview with ERLC President Russell Moore on Tuesday, Bush stated that "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues."

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN late Tuesday, Moore explained that Bush's comments to Moore were "clear in context" at that time.

"In context I think most people in the auditorium understood what Governor Bush meant, which is that we shouldn't be funding Planned Parenthood," said Moore.

Russell Moore
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. |

"[Planned Parenthood is] an organization that is obviously violent and barbaric and instead we ought to be funding other worthy organizations."

Bush garnered much controversy on social media following his remark before the large SBC gathering on Tuesday that we was not sure $500 million was needed for women's health issues.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton immediately denounced the comments as "absolutely, unequivocally wrong."

Kaylie Hanson, the director of women's media for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that Bush "wants to restrict access to affordable health care for women, which isn't surprising considering his 'shame and blame' playbook."

"This backwards ideology isn't only the exact opposite of what women need from their next president — it could put the health of millions of women in jeopardy," continued Hanson.

The Bush campaign released a statement in response to the outcry, clarifying that he misspoke and the comments were about defunding Planned Parenthood.

"… there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women's health organizations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don't have the access they need," read the Bush statement.

"I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood — an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs."

Bush's comments came as part of a forum held by the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Send North America Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, wrote in a blog entry that the conference also hosted Republican candidate Marco Rubio.

"This forum will be the first in a series of conversations with candidates, and we're already in conversation with other campaigns about these," wrote Moore.

"I want our constituency of gospel Christians to hear from everyone possible, of all parties and all ideologies. I'm glad that Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio have agreed to kick off this ongoing conversation."

Moore also wrote that while he also invited Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, she declined to attend the forum.

"I regret that, since I think it would have been respectful conversation that would have enabled her to speak to questions evangelicals have, and could have modeled our disagreements with her with civility," continued Moore.

In his interview Moore at the Nashville conference, Bush also spoke about the importance of religious liberty in the United States, especially Christian businessmen being allowed to not serve gay weddings if morally opposed.

"This is a foundational freedom of our country ... the president should have not just the right but the duty to explain why this is a threat to not just religious freedoms but other freedoms," said Bush.

"We don't want to create an environment that discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation, and we certainly don't want to discriminate against people that believe that their faith drives their actions and the things that they consider to be important."

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