George Bush Sr. on Abortion

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


Shifted towards pro-life camp seeing callousness of abortion

Bush's mind worked by drawing on deeply engrained principles, & he constantly sifted information. This made him open to profound growth. He read that the number of abortions in D.C. had eclipsed the number of live births. This callousness toward life deeply disturbed him and he began moving more firmly into the pro-life camp. It wasn't as if he were at one point on the continuum one day and at the opposite point the next day. He had a constantly engaged mind, a habit he passed on to his children.
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 50 , Mar 9, 2010

Slowly moved along continuum to pro-life

I saw how Bush's mind worked, drawing on broad principles that were deeply engrained, and how he constantly collected and sifted information. This made him open to profound growth. He read in the paper that the number of abortions in DC had eclipsed the number of live births. This callousness toward life deeply disturbed him and he began moving more firmly into the pro-life camp. It wasn't as if he were at one point on the continuum one day and at the opposite point the next day.
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 50 , Mar 9, 2010

1962: Pro-choice candidate, for population control

George considered himself an Episcopalian, which is to say, he went to church and, when he became a politician in 1962, started mentioning his faith in God as a matter of course. But he wasn't a fanatic about it. George Bush the congressman from Houston, in fact, was known as a pro-choice candidate, one of whose major policy initiatives was dealing with overpopulation. He was the main House sponsor of Public Law 91-572, the Population Control and Research Act.

George wanted to be president more than he wanted to be prochoice, and he quietly jumped on the antiabortion bandwagon. He also started talking more about God, but he was never comfortable doing it.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.299-300 , Feb 15, 2007

1950: Father lost for CT Senate due to Birth Control League

Prescott Bush was accused of being Finance Chairman of the Birth Control League. Prescott was living--and running for office--in a predominately Catholic state where birth control was still illegal.

Prescott was faced with a politician's worst dilemma: to tell the truth and lose, or to lie and tough it out. Prescott grabbed the lie. He denied that he was ever part of the Birth Control League, which had merged with similar organizations in 1942 to become Planned Parenthood.

Despite his vehement and righteous denials, Prescott had in fact been an early and active supporter of the American birth-control movement. On January 8, 1947, announcing Planned Parenthood's first national fundraising effort, listed at the top of the letterhead as treasurer was Prescott S. Bush.

Prescott lost in an agonizingly close race by 1/10 of 1%, and he never forgave his accuser: "His smear actually cost me the election in the opinion of every politician in the state of Connecticut."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.115-117 , Sep 14, 2004

1970: Introduced Family Planning Services Act

George's main interest in Congress was population control. He supported Planned Parenthood, and he advocated family planning as a way to protect a woman's health & to combat poverty. In those days, family-planning advocates spoke openly of contraception, and legal abortion was the goal of many, including Bush.

"He was most definitely pro-choice--then," said former Rep. James Scheuer (D-NY). "He was very supportive until he became Reagan's VP. Then he had to adopt Reagan's backward position. After that, when George would see me in the House, he'd say, 'Jim, don't break my cover.' And I never did--until now. George couldn't have continued supporting family planning and still made the national ticket."

George joined Scheuer to introduce the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, which became law in 1970 and the only federal program solely dedicated to family planning. In 1988, under Reagan, clinics were prohibited from providing abortion counseling, which George had once supported.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.277-278 , Sep 14, 2004

Supported family planning as ambassador & Congressman

President Bush had vetoed the Family and Medical Leave Act twice and had backed off women's rights/ Though a supporter of family planning when he was Ambassador to the United Nations and as a Texas Congressman, Bush became an anti-choice Vice President and President. With rates of crime, unemployment, welfare dependency and homelessness climbing, the Bush Administration seemed increasingly out of touch.
Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.115 , Nov 1, 2003

Continued global gag order on family planning

In Kazakhstan, I visited a small women's-wellness center funded through US foreign aid. Because of the unavailability of contraception, abortion had become a common form of family planning under communism. The Clinton Administration's policy was to make abortion "safe, legal and rare." We worked to discourage abortion and minimize the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by providing aid for family planning and improved maternal health. This policy contradicted the global gag rule that had been imposed by President Reagan, continued by Bush and rescinded by Bill on the second day of his Presidency (later reinstated by George W. Bush). The doctors at the Almaty clinic told me that the rates of both abortion and maternal deaths were decreasing, further proof that our practical policy was more effective at making abortion rare than the Republicans' more visceral anticontraception approach.
Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.431 , Nov 1, 2003

1973: Nominally in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade

Bush nominated David Souter in Aug. 1990. The future of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which established abortion rights, hung in the balance. The newest member of the Court was likely to be the deciding vote, and President Bush was nominally in favor of overturning. Although [Souter's home-state Senator] Rudman had not talked directly with Souter about Roe v Wade, he was certain that Souter would not vote to overturn the decision if he made it to the high court.
Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.180-181 , Jun 15, 1999

Pro-life; against advocating abortion in any form

If there was an issue in the campaign that was clear, it was the abortion question. My opponent strongly supported the “choice” position, and I strongly supported the “life” position. I am not “imposing” my views, because I clearly stated them in running for office, and I am not about to change.

I strongly support family planning and have always favored disseminating information on birth control. I do not favor advocating abortion in any way, shape, or form.

Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.420 , Mar 29, 1989

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Other past presidents on Abortion: George Bush Sr. on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022