The Pro-Choice Bush Family
The SF Chronicle is running a piece that looks back at the Bush family's support for Planned Parenthood and family planning services. The article also highlights the fact that both Barbara and Laura Bush are against overturning Roe vs. Wade. "I agree with my husband that we should try to reduce the number of abortions in our country by doing all of those things, by taking responsibility, by talking about abstinence." Yes, pressed interviewer Katie Couric, but what about Roe vs. Wade? "No, I don't think that it should be overturned."
Care to guess who was the treasurer of Planned Parenthood when it launched its first national fundraising campaign in 1947? It was Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of the two Bush presidents.
The political repercussions hit hard. Prescott Bush was knocked out of an expected victory for a Senate seat in Connecticut in 1950 after syndicated columnist Drew Pearson declared that it "has been made known" that Bush was a leader in the "Birth Control Society" (The old name of Planned Parenthood had been the Birth Control Federation of America.) Recall that contraceptives were controversial in those days -- and remember that a constitutional right to use them wasn't established until 1965, when the Supreme Court affirmed an implied right to privacy in Griswold vs. Connecticut.
Prescott Bush won a Senate seat two years later, and his son George and daughter-in-law Barbara continued to support Planned Parenthood even after George's election to Congress from Texas. In fact, he was such an advocate for family planning that some House colleagues gave him the nickname "Rubbers."
But as he began to position himself for the White House within the increasingly conservative GOP, he gradually began to identify himself as averse to abortion -- first by opposing Medicare funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, and ultimately by acceding to presidential nominee Ronald Reagan's demand that, as his vice presidential nominee, Bush embrace the GOP platform's call for a constitutional amendment against abortion.