Can you name any historical figures who helped Planned Parenthood kick off its first fundraising campaign back in 1947? If you first guessed some progressive liberal icon, you’d be wrong.
The die-hard public pro-life bona fides of George W. Bush and his brother and current GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush are undeniable. Jeb has repeatedly said that he would defund Planned Parenthood if he’s elected, and it’s been a promise he’s been making long before the Center for Medical Progress launched their viral undercover video campaign attacking the non-profit, claiming the organization was “selling baby parts.”
But a little known fact — first resurfacing in a 2005 article in SFGate — reveals that the grandfather and father of the last two Bush presidents, Prescott Bush, was the treasurer of the organization in its early years.
But even then, supporting a woman’s right to control over her own reproductive system was politically dangerous.
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 the GOP moved further to the right, George H.W. had to follow and he began to take a more public stance against abortion as he geared up for a White House run.
By the time he was Ronald Reagan’s running mate, Bush had to bow to Reagan’s demand that his vice president embrace the call for a constitutional amendment against abortion. At that point, the die had already been cast for Jeb and Bush.