Jeb Bush Defends Terri Schiavo Actions, Flaunts Religious Right Record In Focus On The Family Interview

In an interview with the powerful Religious Right group Focus on the Family today, Jeb Bush touted his anti-choice credentials and boasted of his role in the controversial Terri Schiavo case when he was governor of Florida.

Bush told Jim Daly, the president of Focus and host of its daily radio program, that he was proud of his role in approving a number of anti-choice policies, including targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws designed to shut down family planning clinics and state funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which are notorious for peddling misinformation to women in hopes of dissuading them from seeking abortions.

“We’re the only state, I believe, to have funded with state monies crisis pregnancy centers to provide counselors so that these not-for-profits that in many cases aren’t as well funded as many others could act on their mission, which to provide broader support, but the actual counseling was done, paid for by the state,” he said. “It was a godsend for these crisis pregnancy centers and a lot of babies’ lives were saved.”

“Terri Schiavo is another example of this,” he said, referring to his efforts to intervene to stop the removal of a feeding tube of a Florida women who had been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, over the objections of the woman’s husband.

He insisted that he “didn’t go beyond my authority” in the Schiavo case, although Schiavo’s husband may beg to differ.

Bush, whose stance on so-called religious freedom laws has shifted in recent weeks, said that the country needs to “sort out the fact that people aren’t going to be discriminated against under the law and that people have the right space to act on their conscience.”

“It is a non-negotiable point,” Bush continued. “Because if we start — what other element of the Bill of Rights is next? If the First Amendment right, if that’s gone, then what’s next? This is a slippery slope. This has to be sorted out in a different way than having a crisis occur in a state capital and then have an avalanche of opposition where people are just worried about the economic repercussions rather than having a more civil conversation about how we sort this out to protect people’s religious freedom.”