Governor George W. Bush on women’s issues

Published on 10 February 2012

Governor of Texas - January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000

Governor George W. Bush on women’s issues

As a so-called “compassionate conservative,” Republican Governor George W. Bush promoted a “culture of life,” while at the same time calling for consensus on strategies to reduce abortions.

He was a born-again Christian who believed that life begins at conception, and in promoting the teaching of abstinence over other forms of sexual education. He argued for more parental notification laws, the promotion of adoption, and the ban on partial-birth abortion.

That said, he parted ways with the more extreme wing of his conservative base in arguing that the mother in such late-term abortion cases should not be criminalized.

Governor George W. Bush took fairly standard conservative positions on other issues commonly important to women voters. With regard to social programs, he argued for the phasing out of Medicare and Medicaid, and lambasted welfare as a “culture of dependency”.

On the issue of healthcare, Governor George W. Bush was adamantly against a national healthcare plan, and slammed Gore as being a proponent of "Hillary-care" (referencing the Clinton’ administration’s unpopular attempt in 1994 to move toward universal healthcare).

Bush offered an alternative plan that included tax credits for families to help with buying their own insurance, and more flexibility for states to expand coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs).

The Texas governor also favored privatization of Social Security, which his Democratic opponent Vice President Al Gore argued would, if successfully enacted, disproportionately hurt women.

Naturally, Bush rejected this assertion and argued that he was merely trying to improve a broken system that was bound for bankruptcy. When he later became President and tried to follow through on this plan, the term privatization was thrown out in favor of the more appealing term, “private accounts.”

Nevertheless, his efforts were a colossal political failure on par with that of the Clinton Administration’s “Hillary-care”. Bush’s own stumble with Social Security was no surprise to any political observer familiar with this issue’s reputation as “the third rail of politics.”

And finally, when it came to education, another issue near and dear to women voters, Bush supported vouchers, which Al Gore derided as “educational roulette.”