NEW YORK, July 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Until the eve of his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush was director of a philanthropy that gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and financed its advocacy of "unrestricted access to abortion" around the world. The charity also approved money to global abortion providers while he sat on its board.
In 2010, Jeb was named one of the founding directors of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, established as a tax-exempt foundation to advance the vision of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He resigned from the board at the end of 2014 to prepare his presidential campaign.
While a Bush spokesman has responded to concerns by saying that Bush would not have voted on every initiative of the foundation, a pro-life leader told LifeSiteNews it "stretches credibility" that Bush was unaware of the foundation's pro-abortion work, given the centrality of such work to the foundation's mission, and its scope.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Bush for comment, but did not hear back by press time.
$50 million to 'reproductive health' and Planned Parenthood
In March of 2014, the Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million undertaking to expand "reproductive health," including lobbying foreign nations to loosen restrictions on abortion.
Bloomberg announced a major partnership with Planned Parenthood-Global to train and equip abortion activists in pro-life countries.
"In 2014, we started supporting local nonprofit organizations in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, and Nicaragua to advocate for better policies in their countries that will expand access to comprehensive reproductive health services," the foundation stated. "These organizations will receive technical assistance from Planned Parenthood Federation of America – Global Division to help augment their capacity for effective advocacy."
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards greeted the news by saying that "governments need to play a stronger role to ensure that all women have access to the health care they need" - including abortion - "no matter who they are, no matter where they live.”
Bloomberg clarified how the partnership would work while receiving Planned Parenthood's Global Citizen Award at its annual gala last March 27.
"We'll Push for Less Restrictive Abortion Laws"
"I am happy to say our major partner in this project will be Planned Parenthood - Global," Bloomberg said. "In some countries, our funding will help advocates work towards better sexual health policies for teens and better access to contraceptives. In others, we'll help push for less restrictive abortion laws and more government funding for high-quality, accessible services."
Such advocacy was "necessary," he continued, because "there are plenty of outside interest groups funding the other side of these issues, and we cannot let them go unanswered."
"This is a fight to women control their own destinies," Bloomberg said. "And let me tell you: We are in it to help them win it, and we're gonna stay in it until they do."
"Together we can succeed," he concluded. "Thank you for this award. God bless."
As head of a foundation with $5.4 billion in assets, which awards more than $200 million a year, the three-term mayor of New York has put his money where his mouth is.
Funding Global Abortion Providers
One aspect of his philanthropy's overall health initiative is to underwrite "reproductive health services in the most remote areas of" Tanzania. Although all grants say they are intended "to reduce maternal deaths," alongside the CDC and the World Lung Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded two abortion providers.
In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies approved a a grant of $1,818,000 for EngenderHealth, and another $250,000 for Marie Stopes International - Tanzania.
"EngenderHealth works to ensure reproductive rights of Tanzanian women and their families by integrating family planning with HIV and comprehensive abortion care services," the group states on its website. EngenderHealth has been discovered promoting the use of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA), a common abortion method, as "post-abortion care" in Africa, including in Tanzania.
The group also touts the fact that its expansion to all 26 regions of the country "has also contributed to an increase in uptake of long-acting and reversible methods," especially Implanon. Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) work both by preventing conception and by "alterations in the endometrium," which can cause an early abortion by preventing implantation.
Marie Stopes is known as a global abortion provider. MSI states that it only provides "post-abortion care" in Tanzania, where abortion is legal only to save the life of the mother.
But Marie Stopes officials have admitted that the group performs illegal abortions.
"We do illegal abortions all over the world," Paul Cornellison, the director of Marie Stopes International in South Africa, said during a Marie Stopes International conference in 2007 in London - remarks that were caught on film. "There's various options, you know, once we open a center there...if we can just get our foot in the door."
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In other nations, Bloomberg has supported advocates of unlimited, universal abortion-on-demand.
"Abortion services should be made free...for all women and girls"
Bloomberg Philanthropies underwrites political advocacy in African and Central American nations whose laws reflect the pro-life outlook of its citizens. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) offers a glimpse into what international abortion lobbyists demand.
Between 2012 and 2014, IPPF wrote a 32-page case study on the Senegalese legal landscape, entitled Over-Protected and Under-Served. While numerous participants told researchers that abortion is "easy" to obtain and “lots of young people are having clandestine abortions,” IPPF focused on promoting "safe" abortion -- while making clear that such laws were only one components of its overall mission.
"Advocacy efforts should focus on realizing the ultimate goal of unrestricted access to abortion services, and protection of this right under the law. Abortion services should be made free, safe, accessible and confidential for all women and girls," the report states.
The abortion industry signaled it rejects incremental aims to achieve the eventual recognition of abortion as a human right. "Anything other than full decriminalization will often lead to abortion remaining inaccessible to all but a very small number of women," the report says.
The task of pressuring government officials will fall to local activists in the nations targeted by Bloomberg because, in the words of Kelly Henning, the head of the public health program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, "We want this effort to be sustainable."
If the effort fails, it will not be for lack of resources. In a separate component of its reproductive health plan, Bloomberg partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to enact Family Planning 2020's global reproductive and population goals.
Is Jeb "Ultimately Accountable"?
The association with Bloomberg conflicts with Jeb's record as a two-term pro-life governor of Florida who enacted parental consent laws, allowed the regulation of abortion facilities, did not allow state funds to be used for abortion counseling, and created the state's "Choose Life" license plate.
As one of more than a dozen directors - which include such distinguished names as former Sens. Sam Nunn and David Boren, currently Sen. Cory Booker, and former Bush-43 officials Elaine Chao and Hank Paulson - what responsibility does the former Florida governor bear?
The issue bubbled up in April, giving his yet-unannounced campaign an opportunity to respond.
“Governor Bush was honored to serve on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which does a lot of good work across the world,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told the Tampa Bay Times. "As a board member, Governor Bush did not vote on or approve individual projects or programs."
Although Bush and Bloomberg "disagree on several policy issues, both share a passion for improving education in America," she added - a reference to their mutual embrace of the Common Core curriculum and other policies.
A spokeswoman for Bloomberg Philanthropies, Meghan Womack, confirmed to the newspaper that directors do not sign off on every project.
But to what extent was Bush active in the issue?
According to nonprofit norms, directors carry deep responsibility for the organizations they help lead. "Regardless of what board members are called, they are in essence the trustees in the literal and legal sense of the term," the National Center for Nonprofit Boards wrote on the responsibilities of board members. "No matter how the organization is structured or the degree of authority delegated to staff, committees, or affiliates, the board and therefore the individual trustees are ultimately accountable."
Bloomberg Philanthropies noted in a press release, "The directors will serve in an advisory and oversight capacity." Bush earned $37,100 in compensation for his nearly five years of service.
"Bush’s people are probably right that as a board member he did not vote on every project," Stephen Phelan, the director of mission communications at Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews. "But Bloomberg has been so open about his foundation’s goals for so long that it really stretches credibility to say that Bush or his people wouldn’t have known that the foundation pushes abortion and other population control efforts."
Bloomberg clarified his goals while accepting his Planned Parenthood award last year. "You can't fight every battle," he said. "The things that are high on my priority list are sensible gun laws...I obviously care about a woman's right to choose...Nobody's a bigger supporter of gay rights." He added that "we need a good immigration bill" that provides amnesty for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, "so we can continue our economy."
Bloomberg has described abortion as a "fundamental human right, elevating it to a make-or-break position. "On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.” He once cited abortion among his reasons for endorsing Barack Obama in 2012.
Despite their differences on abortion policy, the billionaire has had no reservations supporting Jeb Bush's candidacy - even before there was one.
Last spring, he called Jeb and Hillary Clinton "two quality” candidates and "the only two who know how to make the trains run."
He also showered compliments upon Bush while introducing him to the New York State Republican Party convention in 2010.
“I couldn’t agree more with this guy,” he said of Jeb. “If there’s anyone I would want on my side waging all those important battles and helping provide the government Americans deserve, it is our next speaker."