“Fetus In Jar” Formed Bush’s Anti-Choice Stance


President George W. Bush is beginning a promotional tour for a new book, and one of his new talking points appears to be the story of how he became anti-choice as a teenager.  According to the former president, it involved a fetus in a jar.

Via the New York Post:

George W. Bush’s pro-life stance solidified when he was a teenager in Texas — after his mother suffered a devastating miscarriage and showed him the fetus in a jar, the former president said in an extraordinary interview that airs tonight.

“She said to her teenage kid, ‘Here’s the fetus,’” the shockingly candid Bush told NBC’s Matt Lauer, gesturing as if he were holding the jar during the TV chat, a DVD of which The Post exclusively obtained.

“There’s no question that affected me, a philosophy that we should respect life,” said the former president, who had to drive his distraught mother to the hospital at the time.

“I never expected to see the remains of the fetus, which she had saved in a jar to bring to the hospital,” Bush writes in his new book, “Decision Points,” in an excerpt Lauer read during the interview.

“There was a human life, a little brother or sister,” Bush told the “Today” host during the sit-down to promote his tome, which hits stores tomorrow.

Bush said his mother gave him special permission to recount the private story in print.

The story is very reminiscent of one from Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who brought his wife’s 20 week fetus home to take family portraits with before allowing him to be buried.

Upon their son’s death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen’s parents’ home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.

“That’s my little guy,” Santorum says, pointing to the photo of Gabriel, in which his tiny physique is framed by his father’s hand. The senator often speaks of his late son in the present tense. It is a rare instance in which he talks softly.

He and Karen brought Gabriel’s body home so their children could “absorb and understand that they had a brother,” Santorum says. “We wanted them to see that he was real,” not an abstraction, he says. Not a “fetus,” either, as Rick and Karen were appalled to see him described — “a 20-week-old fetus” — on a hospital form. They changed the form to read “20-week-old baby.”

It appears to be a constant theme for the anti-choice movement to believe that because they have seen the body of and dealt with the results of a miscarriage of wanted pregnancy at mid- to late-term wanted, that they then have a full understanding that goes beyond that of women seeking to terminate their own nonviable or undesired pregnancies. 

President Bush’s new tale is just the latest take on this theme, and another story to add to the lexicon of the anti-choice movement.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Robin Marty on Twitter: @robinmarty

To schedule an interview with Robin Marty please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • beenthere72

    I was wondering about this because I heard it mentioned on today’s local morning show and I had missed the interview (not that I had all that much interest to watch it).    I guess we all deal with grief in different ways, no matter how disturbing. 

  • saltyc

    Well it didn’t stop him from having that girl who got pregnant with him from getting an abortion in Houston in 1971. He wouldn’t even accompany her to the hospital. Typical pro-life dude. You’ll make everyone else sacrifice for your ideals, but it won’t let it put a cramp in your style.

    People say who cares, but this level of high hypocrisy is what’s killing women and making so many lives miserable.

  • plume-assassine

    Upon their son’s death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen’s parents’ home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.

    I know that each person grieves differently and it’s not really right to criticize different grief-display practices…. but I can’t help but feel like there is something very disturbing about this kind of scenario. I feel like there is a lack of respect for the dead and an inability to acknowledge death. It also seems very insensitive to subject their 6 & 4-year-old children to such a display. I imagine it would be pretty upsetting as a child to see my parents holding and taking photographs for several hours with my deceased baby brother or sister. If Gabriel had died at, say, age 1 or so, instead of at 20 weeks, I doubt they would have done the same. (I don’t mean to sound insensitive myself; it’s just that I have trouble understanding this is all.)

     

    A miscarriage or stillbirth from a very wanted pregnancy is incredibly heartbreaking and a sad loss for the entire family, but such an experience should never be used as the center of anti-choice philosophy.

  • crowepps

    Stillbirths are sometimes treated like a ‘death’ with a funeral and burial, but I’ve never heard of anything like that for a miscarriage halfway through the pregnancy.  I was never certainly never asked after my miscarriages whether I wanted to retain the fetus, in both cases the ‘products of pregnancy’ were treated like medical waste.

     

    Considering the ‘alien’ appearance of a 20 week fetal corpse, I would think watching Mommy and Daddy “kissing and cuddling” and singing lullabies in its ear would be pretty traumatic for children 6, 4 and 1 1/2.  As a matter of fact, if MY daughter and son-in-law showed up at my house clutching a dead fetus, it would be pretty darn traumatic for ME.

  • plume-assassine

    Right, it makes more sense to me to treat stillbirths as a death with a funeral and burial. But even then, if it was a stillbirth and not a miscarriage, it seems odd to me to keep the baby for several hours to pose for pictures and sing lullabies. I don’t know, though. Does that sort of thing really help the parents & family or does it exacerbate the grief?

     

    I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, but I know women who have. They were understandably very upset, but they eventually found strength to move on and try again. They didn’t put on a lugubrious show of grief in front of their young children.

     

    I should also add that I wonder what kind of mother would show the remains of her miscarriage to her teenage son (as in Bush’s case)? It seems totally inappropriate/upsetting to me.

  • truthseeker

    From his interview with President Bush, Matt Lauer’s piece on how Barack and Michelle were able to stroll leisurely down Constitution Avenue, interfacing with their adoring public, compared to how Laura and George were forced to sit behind thick bullet-proof glass was disturbing.  The truth of the actions of radical progressives was crystal clear on the screen, as well as the dignity on full display by respectful conservatives. 

  • liberaldem

    I’ve actually seen photographs of 20 week fetuses on a scrapbooking website where a member who experienced a couple of second trimester miscarriages  chose to create a scrapbook to memorialize what were obviously very much wanted pregnancies.   It appeared to be a way for her to deal with her grief, and I respect a personal or family decision to deal with such an event in the manner that helps them at a very difficult time.

     

    At the same time, I agree that this doesn’t justify imposing one’s anti-choice views on others.

  • ack

    I also think everyone has the right to grieve how they need to, but whoa… was consideration given to the well-being of the children they included in this ritual? Personally, I think kissing and cuddling a corpse of ANY age for several hours would be a questionable thing to do in front of young children. Do what you need to to get through it (aside from harm to self or others, of course), but make sure it’s an emotionally safe place for your kids, too.

     

    Not to mention physically safe. This isn’t exactly like pecking Grandma on her cold cheek one last time after she dies in bed, or after she’s been embalmed and made up and put in her nice dress. This doesn’t seem… sanitary. But I freely admit that me being ooged out might have more to do with me than reality.

  • tonys

    that people on here are showing for the children of the Santorums in having to view a 20-week old fetus.  I also noticed how many of you referred to it as, “death,” a “corpse,” and other terms indicating that it was once a living, breathing human.  I am wondering how we can justify, as a modern society, the promotion and support of the killing of the unborn because they were “undesired.”

    I was 20 years old when I got a girl pregnant.  I wasn’t “ready” and it wasn’t “convenient,” but the pregnancy was not the child’s fault, was it?  How is it not the ultimate form of child abuse to kill something because it is unwanted?  My daughter is now 17 and beautiful and understands that, indeed, she was a choice.  She’s sure glad we made the right one, and gosh darn it if she isn’t Pro-Life and an amazing testimony to the power of the RIGHT choice.  I would love for some of you to tell her how it would have been better had she never been born.   You wouldn’t have the guts.

    You can slice and dice and spin and justify your choice, but in the end, there is still a dead human in the equation that had NO choice.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Women, little girls, and pregnant rape victims, have the right to “not” have their bodis used against their will, they have the right to say “no” I will not have extreme vaginal pain in nine months against my will, they have the right not to be terrorized for nine monthes with worry and dread of future genital pain. I actually have physical and emotional feelings, and I know my right to life does not give me the right to cause and terrorize any female with vaginal pain.
    I would not be so sick as to ask any female to do that for my right to life.

    You say your daughter is pro life because she was not aborted. Some of the many reasons I am pro-choice, because my being born ruined my mothers life, health, put her in extreme poverty, and made her very vulnerable to abuse from my father. I know that you pro-lifers do not care about my mother. ~

  • saltyc

     

    .

  • beenthere72

    While there are a few people in this world I wish would never have been born, pro-choicers would NEVER tell someone such as your daughter that she should have never been born.     We give you all the credit in the world for providing that wanted child with a good life (assuming you have).     I just hope you did not coerce the girl you got pregnant at 20 to give birth because YOU are pro-life.     And I hope you do not force your daughter to give birth if she were to get pregnant as a result of rape or should a pregnancy put *her* life in danger.

     

    Ulimately, the burden is not on you to carry and birth a baby.   If it were, I think you’d think differently about choice.

  • saltyc

    My daughter is now 17 and beautiful and understands that, indeed, she was a choice.  She’s sure glad we made the right one, and gosh darn it if she isn’t Pro-Life and an amazing testimony to the power of the RIGHT choice.

    Why would you make her think you might have aborted her when you had no intention of doing so? Sounds really manipulative to me. “Hey be grateful because we didn’t abort you.” I would never tell that to my daughter, and I was an unmarried drug addict with an abusive boyfriend when I found out I was pregnant with her. (She doesn’t know that either) One thing I hope my daughter knows is that if she’s in any kind of trouble, she can come to me. That’s one thing daughters of pro-lifers can’t do, why they call abortion funds for help when they want an abortion and can’t afford one: they can’t tell their parents. And their parents never know how unhelpful they were at their daughters’ most desperate need.

    I would love for some of you to tell her how it would have been better had she never been born.   You wouldn’t have the guts.

    We also wouldn’t have any reason to tell her that, duh. Why would we even think that? You’re weird.

  • ack

    It was a choice. It was the right choice for you and hopefully your partner. Yet you want to deny that choice to others who know their situation as well as you knew yours? Something in your life told you that you could make this work somehow. Other couples aren’t in that position.

     

    And on the child abuse argument: No. No. NO. Abortion is not the worst form of child abuse. Set up a google alert for child murder and start reading about the cases that happen EVERY DAY in this country. Children deliberately starved, beaten, burned, raped… tortured. THAT is the worst form of child abuse. Torturing living, breathing, crying, screaming children who have no hope of escape. Think about the countless children beaten to death with belts and fists and decide whether a non-sentient ZBEF suffers more through abortion.

     

  • squirrely-girl

    My daughter is now 17 and beautiful and understands that, indeed, she was a choice. 

    Ummm… aren’t we all? The choice to carry a pregnancy to term is no less of a choice than abortion and ultimately respected by the pro-choice crowd either way. In fact, plenty of pro-choicers choose “life” everyday but can still respect the rights of other women to make the choice that is best for them. 

     

    See, now was that so hard?

  • princess-rot

    Another facet to those who go into a tailspin of self-righteous angst at the thought that their woman choose to end a pregnancy is composed of those who worry that the earth would cease to spin if they had never been born. I have actually had a pro-lifer say to me during a class debate in college that they were pro-life because they were not aborted, and that was that. No caveats, no explanations, no tale of heroic martyrdom to gestate a sickly pregnancy against all odds… just that. A perfectly ordinary, wanted pregnancy that ended in live birth. It made me raise an eyebrow, certainly, because it sounded so self-centred and stupid. Pro-lifers raise the spectre of the promiscuous, wayward, cold-hearted straw-woman who fucks and has abortions for the fun of it, but they don’t listen to the kind of narcisscism their mythos inculcates in their own.

     

    Meanwhile, the lifer went on to say that they were against birth control because they believed it stopped their mother having the sibling they’d always wanted. I thought that perhaps their mother had stopped after witnessing her first child grow up to be a selfish ass, but I wasn’t so crass to say it.

     

    “I wasn’t aborted, but I could have been!” (Presumably because of the existence of Roe?)

     

    Uh, right. Drama Llama.

  • beenthere72

    I thought that perhaps their mother had stopped after witnessing her first child grow up to be a selfish ass, but I wasn’t so crass to say it.

     

    You should have! 

  • tonys

    Seems this site is pretty dead unless someone comes in and turns on a light.

    I appreciate all of your comments, yet none addressed my final statement, which is really the core of the matter.

    You can slice and dice and spin and justify your choice, but in the end, there is still a dead human in the equation that had NO choice.

    Pro-Choicers believe that the pregnancy is a dictatorship where the developing human life gets zero representation and has zero rights.  And because that human life had the misfortune of ending up in the uterus of an undesired pregnancy, it is too bad.  If only the life had developed in a wanted pregnancy, it would be different.  The human life is innocent and had nothing to do with its own existence, yet it bears the brunt of the situation.

    You all feel very strongly about it, which I respect, but you will not end the victimization of women by victimizing the unborn child and relegating a woman to a dictator with the means to end the life of their own child out of convenience or perceived necessity.  You degrade women by doing so.

  • forced-birth-rape

    You do not know what you are talking about Tony! You degrade women! As a matter of fact, I would rather be aborted then born to a pro-lifer.

  • plume-assassine

    oops

  • plume-assassine

    No. Pro-choicers believe that pregnancy should be a choice and that motherhood should be a gift, not a result of coercion or used as a tool of punishment for having sex. There is no “dictatorship” relationship as you would like to imagine, because that developing human life is not yet a person.

     

     And because that human life had the misfortune of ending up in the uterus of an undesired pregnancy, it is too bad

    You forgot something. You mean, a fertilized egg in the uterus of a woman who does not desire to be pregnant? Yes, that is too bad, because the woman is the only indisputable person involved in the unwanted pregnancy scenario, and something is occupying and using her body against her will. A ZBEF which is not sentient does not bear the brunt of any situation.

     

    You will not end the victimization of women by forcing them to carry to term and give birth to every single pregnancy. You degrade me, and you degrade other women by pretending that an embryo or fetus is an actualized person on the same level as an adult woman.

  • arekushieru

    And because the woman had the misfortune of her body developing a uterus within, it is too bad, for the way you Anti-Choicers see it.  A fetus would have MORE rights and representation if you and your fellow anti-choicers had your way.  NO other human has the right to co-opt someone else’s organs, not EVen to save their own life.  You moralize and spread lies and fiction in order to get women to carry to term but those organ recipients who are waiting on the organ transplant list are represented by a medical body armed with logic, truth and facts.

    Fetuses are NEIther innocent nor guilty.  Innocence is the default of guilt not the default of the lack of capacity to BE guilty.  The lack of capacity to BE innocent is the default of that last.  If you want to redefine innocence and guilt to exclude awareness and sentience, then you have just declared a fetus guilty.  Because it implanted in her uterus and caused the life-threatening, dangerous medical condition.

    The woman bears the brunt of the situation, btw.  Her life AND health are in danger, even WITH a relatively normal, wanted pregnancy.  Her life AND health are no LONGER in danger once she has had an abortion (or less likely to be in danger once she has given birth).  It is too bad that you, et al anti-choicers, like to disappear the woman.  And act as if pregnancy is no big deal, but then fail to realize that you just stated that rape is no big deal because it is FAR less threatening to one’s life and physical health, is of shorter duration and involves two indisPUTable human beings. 

    you will not end the victimization of women by victimizing the unborn child and relegating a woman to a dictator with the means to end the life of their own child out of convenience or perceived necessity. 

    You will not end the victimization of black people by victimizing the slavers right to property and relegating a black person to a dictator with the means to decide their own destinies out of convenience or perceived necessity…. 

    …Yeah, anti-choicers like to play that card, all the time.  It doesn’t work in ANY other scenario similar to forced gestation.  Forced gestation which IS, essentially, slavery. 

    Disappear the woman again by calling pregnancy merely an ‘inconvenience’, I see, eh?  HOW can pregnancy be merely an ‘inconvenience’, after all, if pregnancy is the second leading cause of death in women worldwide, the fact that it is second only to aids and a false reduction of risk that should be telling you something, especially considering that pregnant women are more VULnerable to aids than any other group of humans….  Hmmm…. 

    Perceived necessity?  I think that keeping the same right that everyone else has to determine who uses one’s body and when and how it is used, via ongoing, informed and explicit consent, even when another’s life is involved and reGARdless of cause or intent, IS necessary for women to be recognized as humans and persons.

    You can slice and dice and spin and justify your choice, but in the end, there is still a dead human in the equation that had NO choice.

    You can slice and dice and spin and justify your (choice), but in the end, there are still two live humans in the equation that had NO choice.  Orrrr… didja think that a fetus ‘chooses’ to be born…?  *Shakes head at the irrationality of some*

    My mom is ProChoice.  I would like to know how I can be dead and posting these comments, then….

     

  • ahunt

    You experience is actually pretty funny, PR.  Dunno if I could have kept a straight face.

  • ahunt

    Interesting framing. A woman who chooses NOT to gestate is the equivalent of a Dictator.

     

    dic·ta·tor

     [dik-tey-ter, dik-tey-ter] Show IPA

    –noun

    1.

    a person exercising absolute power, esp. a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.
    2.

    (in ancient Rome) a person invested with supreme authority during a crisis, the regular magistracy being subordinated to him until the crisis was met.
    3.

    a person who authoritatively prescribes conduct, usage, etc.: a dictator of fashion.
    4.

    a person who dictates, as to a secretary.

     

    Get me from A) a woman chooses not to gestate to B) a woman has absolute power to determine the realities of her life. Be specific.

  • ack

    Seems this site is pretty dead unless someone comes in and turns on a light.

     

    All the points you’ve brought up are pretty tired, actually. Repeatedly debated, and have repeatedly wound up in the same place devoid of compromise, since granting fetal rights inherently grants them MORE rights than any born human and devalues the rights of THE WOMAN THE FETUS IS LIVING IN.

     

    From what I’ve read, the pro-choicers on this site just aren’t comfortable zeroing out the rights of the woman the fetus is living in.

     

    And because I love to make it personal:

    I just got my period. Early. I’m on the pill, but I missed a couple doses at an essential time this month. My boyfriend and I were in Vegas (we had a GREAT time!), and there’s a miniscule chance I got pregnant. What, exactly, do you propose I do? Mourn? Have a memorial service?

     

  • truthseeker

    Of what are you progressives so afraid concerning conservatives???

     

     

  • princess-rot

    To give y’all some context, the discussion was a few years ago and it was about the Born Alive bill. I think it would have lowered the tone and this person was doing a stellar job of making themselves look foolish on their own, even to other conservatives in the group. Sometimes wit is best left on the staircase.

     

    I don’t think anything I could have said after that would have sunk in. This woman – antifeminist, of course – could not and would not consider any experience outside her own. She could not imagine that incremental, seemingly innocuous “feelgood” bills were not about being moral and saving babies, but part of shaping political discourse and grooming society. It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s how politics works. But no, anyone dissenting was automatically wrong, blinded by “anti-life propaganda” and “refusal to accept the humanity of living babies in the womb.”

     

    Never mind that nobody said we did. They wouldn’t, because it would be a pointless and empty bit of rhetoric that sounds like it’s saying something profound when it isn’t. We know women don’t get pregnant with puppies, but we also acknowledge that life can be hard, and compulsory pregnancy is not helpful. We know that forced birth intersects heavily with women’s ability to compete socially and economically. We know that being defined by your reproductive organs leads to chipping away of your personhood, when your bodily autonomy is negotiable your freedom and your humanity are too.