Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Barack Obama says George W. Bush never sought to defund Planned Parenthood

The statement

"George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood."

Barack Obama, in Tuesday's presidential debate

The ruling

As president, George W. Bush called himself a "compassionate conservative" and spoke of supporting "a culture of life." He steered money to faith-based groups, and he signed a federal ban on late-term abortions in 2003. When he ran for re-election in 2004, Planned Parenthood endorsed Democrat John Kerry, the first time the group formally backed a presidential candidate.

That said, we searched media reports from Bush's eight years in office and found no instances of the president pushing to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood's work in the United States. We contacted Planned Parenthood itself, which also couldn't cite evidence of Bush targeting its federal money.

On the contrary, we found ample evidence that Bush was satisfied with the status quo. In 1999, when he was first running for president, he declined to sign a pledge to defund Planned Parenthood, saying he supported "incremental changes helpful to America's pro-life movement."

The Obama campaign also pointed us to information on Title X funding (which pays for the health services Planned Parenthood provides) during the Bush years.

His 2002 budget proposal eliminated contraceptive coverage for federal employees but maintained funding for Title X, including $66 million for Planned Parenthood. A budget bill he signed in 2007 provided "the largest increase in Title X family planning funding since 2000, a $16.8 million increase from the previous year," according to a Planned Parenthood news release.

One caveat: Bush did cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and other groups working overseas that counsel women about abortion.

Mitt Romney, for his part, has repeatedly pledged to revoke Planned Parenthood's funding. His website says he would "eliminate Title X Family Planning Funding — Savings: $300 Million. Title X subsidizes family planning programs that benefit abortion groups like Planned Parenthood."

We rate Obama's statement Mostly True.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

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