Two decades ago, as U.S. representative to the Unite Nations, George Bush understood the family planning obstacles facing women in this country and abroad. Abortion was then illegal in most states, and contraceptives were available to only to women who could afford private physicians. Poor women had to rely on clinics and hospitals that were forbidden to discuss contraceptives. As a result, poor women usually had many children, adding a heavy economic burden to their families. In the international arena, Bush also understood the need for development assistance that included family planning -- otherwise, poor countries would be hard-pressed to keep up with the needs of a burgeoning population, much less attain a measure of self-sufficiency.
But somehow in his quest for the presidency, Bush conveniently forgot what he knew about family planning and decided that abortion was anathema -- a political position that includes hostility to family planning as well. In recent decisions decided by justices appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush, the Supreme Court has, in one case, upheld Reagan-Bush regulations that put a gag rule on family planning clinics receiving federal funds and, in a separate case, a Reagan-Bush policy that denies U.S. funding to international family planning organizations because those activities allegedly increase abortions.
Obviously George Bush knows -- or at least he once knew -- that the best way to prevent abortions is to make them unnecessary. Unfortunately, since he wrote this piece, that obvious truth apparently became less important that towing the political line.