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Former First Daughter Barbara Bush Delivers Keynote Address at Planned Parenthood Fundraiser

Anti-abortion activists question Bush's support of Planned Parenthood

Former first daughter and Global Health Corps Founder Barbara Bush turned some heads Wednesday when she delivered the keynote address at a Fort Worth fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

The annual luncheon is one of Planned Parenthood's largest fundraisers in the state, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization.

More than 1,000 people were expected to attend; media were not allowed into the private event.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas said they were "lucky to have incredible community support" at the luncheon and to have Bush as their keynote speaker.

"Every year we try to get a keynote speaker to join us who can speak to the issues that are important to Planned Parenthood supporters," said Sarah Wheat, Chief External Affairs Officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

Wheat said they invited Bush because they were impressed by her work with the Global Health Corps, which helps to promote health equity across the world.

"In the room today, we had Democrats, Republicans, and Independents," said Wheat. "We're a non-partisan organization. And that's why we've been in Fort Worth for generations -- because we have such broad and deep community support."

Not all were thrilled with Bush's appearance at the event. A group of about 12-15 anti-abortion activists gathered outside the hotel where the luncheon took place and held signs in protest.

"We don't understand why Barbara Bush, someone with her talents and abilities, would be lending her time to an organization like Planned Parenthood," said Jillian Ferguson, a regional coordinator for the group Students for Life of America. "She cares deeply for people. And so it doesn't really make sense to us that she would be helping to support an organization that clearly does not."

Ferguson repeatedly pointed out that Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the U.S. -- and said Bush speaking at the event "implies that she supports everything Planned Parenthood does."

In a 2016 interview with New York Times, which she gave alongside Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, Bush called Planned Parenthood an exceptional organization.

During that same interview, she addressed the issue of breaking with some her father's well-established views.

"My parents raised us to use our voices for issues we care about," Bush told the paper.

Wheat said it's important to note that Planned Parenthood provides many other services in addition to "safe, legal abortions," including birth control, HIV testing, screening and treatment for STD's, cervical cancer screening, and clinical breast exams.

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