George Bush was a remarkable man (and the ultimate wingman)

The life of President George H.W. Bush in and of itself was remarkable – a Navy pilot and war hero who survived being shot down in WWII, successful businessman, Yale graduate, congressman from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, CIA director, special envoy to China, vice president and then … Continue reading “George Bush was a remarkable man (and the ultimate wingman)”

The life of President George H.W. Bush in and of itself was remarkable – a Navy pilot and war hero who survived being shot down in WWII, successful businessman, Yale graduate, congressman from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, CIA director, special envoy to China, vice president and then president of the United States of America.

He was husband to Barbara for 73 years, a father of 6, including another president of the United States, George W. Bush. His biography seems like it would have to have spanned a dozen lifetimes. Yet he epitomized the best of commitment to family and public service within the span of 94 years.

As impressive as his own resume was, he perhaps is best known as the ultimate wingman, and not just during his service as a Navy pilot. Bush was a man who helped others shine and was always there with the assist to allow others to score – especially President Ronald Reagan, whom he served faithfully and fully, often behind the scenes. He was not only comfortable in his role as vice president but seemed to embrace it.

While working for President Reagan during his post-White House years, I watched President Bush and my boss interact on many occasions – in the Reagan’s Los Angeles office, at the Reagan residence, on the phone, and even in the White House. Their camaraderie and friendship were overwhelmingly evident. The two smiled broadly, laughed easily, and seemed to always pick up right where they had left off. They did so more as personal friends than as political partners.

I’ll never forget the first words I heard Bush utter in person. I was waiting for him to arrive in the reception area of President Reagan’s Los Angeles office. Together, looking out his 34th-floor office window, President Reagan and I watched the long presidential motorcade slowly wind around the streets of Century City en route to Fox Plaza.

Though it would have been much easier for the sitting president to just invite his predecessor to come visit with him at his hotel, ever the gentleman, President Bush chose to go to President Reagan’s office in an act of deference and respect.

A tall man – officially standing 6 feet 2 inches, but always seeming to be much taller – President Bush was a towering presence who entered the office with a warm, wide smile, striding briskly into the office, loudly shouting out, “Now where is my president?!”

I was struck by the fact that the sitting president of the United States, entering the office with his full staff and Secret Service entourage – clearly the most powerful man in the room (and arguably in the world!) – would refer to someone else in this manner.

But now, knowing George Bush as we all do, it is no surprise at all. He spoke truth and did so with humility. He would forever see Ronald Reagan as HIS president. And knew in many ways that the nation still did too.

Only a man with a strong sense of self could follow the landslide presidency of Ronald Reagan, picking up the torch that Reagan had lit and continuing to walk it forward in his own way, with his own style, yet in many ways still in the footsteps of his predecessor. He saw his good friend “Ron” as still – and always – HIS president. What remarkable respect and humility.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and although Bush was president, as the world watched, most didn’t say, “Thank you President Bush for ending the Cold War.” Instead they turned a nostalgic and grateful eye toward Ronald Reagan, attributing the actions of the present primarily to his one bold statement of the past, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

President Bush didn’t take that personally, but instead celebrated the triumphant liberation of East Germans to once again unite with loved ones and pursue a future of freedom instead of oppression. Score – Reagan. Assist – Bush.

I watched with pride on January 11, 1993, as President Bush awarded his former boss with the highest honor that can be bestowed on an American citizen – the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the White House that day President Bush honored President Reagan with the following words:

“Some men reflect their times. Ronald Reagan changed his times. And nowhere was that more true than abroad where he championed the holy grail of liberty. Mr. President, you helped make ours not only a safer but far better world in which to live. … Few people believe more in liberty’s inevitable triumph than Ronald Reagan. None was more a prophet in his time. … And I consider him my friend and mentor, and so he is. … Ronald Reagan didn’t just make the world believe in America; he made Americans believe in themselves. … He turned that winter of discontent into a springtime of possibility.”

They stood side by side, beaming with friendship and shared pride. Together they had accomplished much. Yet on that day the honor was meant to only go one way – to the 40th president, and the 41st president magnanimously ensured that.

You may recall that in 1980, the establishment Republicans didn’t want Ronald Reagan to be the candidate. They instead supported George H.W. Bush. Ultimately, of course, Reagan wound up with the nomination. But only a noble man with an overriding willingness to serve country over self, would leave the convention not with bitterness, but with a commitment to the man who had just surpassed him, and agree to serve him as he served America.

When Ronald Reagan passed away in 2004, Bush, choking back tears, uttered the following words during his National Cathedral eulogy. “As his vice president for eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life. I learned kindness; we all did. I also learned courage; the nation did. And then I learned decency; the whole world did. … The Good Book says, ‘humility goes before honor.’ And our friend had both, and who could not cherish such a man?”

Today, we use those same words to honor and celebrate the life and the passing of President George H.W. Bush – a man who served our 40th president and served our nation with both humility and honor. And we cherish him for it.

Peggy Grande is author of “The President Will See You Now”, a keynote speaker and a specialty project consultant. She was the executive assistant to president Ronald Reagan from 1989 – 1999.

Abortion restrictions prompt international activists to provide care in America

Across the nation, women’s access to reproductive care has been protested, shuttered, legislated and sometimes strictly limited. So much so that an international organization has stepped in to provide abortion consultations and medications to women who face high barriers to care.

AidAccess was recently founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts to provide American women with access to abortion medication. The contentious program operates online, and offers women consultations and mail-delivered abortion medication.

The legality of AidAccess is still undefined. The FDA has said it is investigating the program for any potential legal violations. Currently, the administration mandates that mifepristone, one of the two drugs necessary for a successful medical abortion, must be sold through a tightly-controlled distribution channel.

The Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) employed by the FDA on mifepristone bars the sale of the drug online or through retail pharmacies. Advocates for abortion access argue that REMS is typically used for drugs much more dangerous than abortion pills.

Studies on the abortion pill cocktail found that it was overwhelmingly effective and exceedingly safe. A 2017 study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology medical journal found that of over 8,700 patients who obtained abortion pills through telemedicine services, only .18 percent of them had any complications – none of which resulted in death or even surgery.

Women in the United States have had trouble accessing telemedicine abortion services that competently meet their care needs. Abigail Aiken, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, studied online abortion options.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications. If you’re a poor woman, you can’t."

— Abigail Aiken, assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin

Aiken’s work found that many online options either can’t sell the medication online, or if they do, are woefully short on instructions and information. She said women turn to online options for a variety of reasons. Some prefer their privacy, others don’t have access to clinics, and some face financial and logistic limitations to meeting their state’s requirements for a legal abortion.

“From a public health perspective, there is a harm-reduction justification for helping people to avoid resorting to ineffective or unsafe abortion methods,” she wrote in the study.

Particularly at risk for unsafe self-managed abortions are economically and geographically marginalized women. In this sense, she said she has noticed parallels between her research on abortion access in Ireland and in the United States.

“The actual options available to people in the two countries are strikingly similar,” Aikens said. “That problem of access continues.”

She said the country is effectively living in a post-Roe v. Wade world, where access to abortion care is severely limited for women in much of the country and varies greatly from state to state.

Aiken sees parallels for women in rural Texas or Ireland. She said obtaining a safe abortion in both places often means traveling hours to a clinic and paying hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket. Texas state law doesn’t allow the use of Medicaid or other public funds to pay for an abortion. A 35-year ban on the procedure was recently overturned by a national referendum in Ireland, and before that, women had to leave the country to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

This gap in access and affordability is what Gomperts and her multiple abortion care services aim to fill. In the United States, women can obtain consultation and, after a screening process, abortion medication for just $95.

Gomperts could not be reached for comment, but she detailed her new efforts in a recent story in The Atlantic, which reported AidAccess had already served some 600 American women.

Gomperts’ first foray into medical care activism came nearly two decades ago. In 1999, she founded Women on Waves, which sailed international waters on a Greenpeace ship providing women with access to reproductive care, abortion education and services – all while skirting local laws.

Abortion rights advocates Grace Fried, center, Claire Roden and David Tuke demonstrate in view of Philadelphia City Hall Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 on the eve of the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (AP)

That venture pushed Gomperts to found Women on Web, an online service for women seeking abortion medication nearly anywhere on the planet – except the United States. The Dutch doctor worried that serving American patients through Women on Web would jeopardize the entire operation. Instead of taking the risk, she started AidAccess.

Aiken said Gomperts’ organizations provide women with the correct doses, proper instructions, warnings and appropriate after-care procedures to safely self-manage their abortions at home.

Of course, not everyone is satisfied with the efforts. Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said the program poses problems for women.

“Telemedicine abortions are kind of more sinister in some ways,” Scheidler said. “They make every location in the world effectively an abortion scene.”

His organization, which primarily focuses its efforts on “public square” advocacy, is staunchly opposed to any kind of abortion. He took issue with arguments that AidAccess helps with issues of the accessibility and affordability of reproductive care.

“I don’t see this falling under the same banner of making healthcare more affordable, because having an abortion isn’t healthcare,” he said.

Aiken’s research shows that the reasons for women seeking a self-managed medical abortion are as myriad as the women themselves. Beyond their choices, she said programs like AidAccess provide an unmistakable benefit for marginalized women who have trouble overcoming the barriers to access.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications,” Aiken said. “If you’re a poor woman, you can’t. … AidAccess is trying to provide a way for women to do this at home.”

Abortion restrictions prompt international activists to provide care in America

Across the nation, women’s access to reproductive care has been protested, shuttered, legislated and sometimes strictly limited. So much so that an international organization has stepped in to provide abortion consultations and medications to women who face high barriers to care.

AidAccess was recently founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts to provide American women with access to abortion medication. The contentious program operates online, and offers women consultations and mail-delivered abortion medication.

The legality of AidAccess is still undefined. The FDA has said it is investigating the program for any potential legal violations. Currently, the administration mandates that mifepristone, one of the two drugs necessary for a successful medical abortion, must be sold through a tightly-controlled distribution channel.

The Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) employed by the FDA on mifepristone bars the sale of the drug online or through retail pharmacies. Advocates for abortion access argue that REMS is typically used for drugs much more dangerous than abortion pills.

Studies on the abortion pill cocktail found that it was overwhelmingly effective and exceedingly safe. A 2017 study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology medical journal found that of over 8,700 patients who obtained abortion pills through telemedicine services, only .18 percent of them had any complications – none of which resulted in death or even surgery.

Women in the United States have had trouble accessing telemedicine abortion services that competently meet their care needs. Abigail Aiken, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, studied online abortion options.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications. If you’re a poor woman, you can’t."

— Abigail Aiken, assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin

Aiken’s work found that many online options either can’t sell the medication online, or if they do, are woefully short on instructions and information. She said women turn to online options for a variety of reasons. Some prefer their privacy, others don’t have access to clinics, and some face financial and logistic limitations to meeting their state’s requirements for a legal abortion.

“From a public health perspective, there is a harm-reduction justification for helping people to avoid resorting to ineffective or unsafe abortion methods,” she wrote in the study.

Particularly at risk for unsafe self-managed abortions are economically and geographically marginalized women. In this sense, she said she has noticed parallels between her research on abortion access in Ireland and in the United States.

“The actual options available to people in the two countries are strikingly similar,” Aikens said. “That problem of access continues.”

She said the country is effectively living in a post-Roe v. Wade world, where access to abortion care is severely limited for women in much of the country and varies greatly from state to state.

Aiken sees parallels for women in rural Texas or Ireland. She said obtaining a safe abortion in both places often means traveling hours to a clinic and paying hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket. Texas state law doesn’t allow the use of Medicaid or other public funds to pay for an abortion. A 35-year ban on the procedure was recently overturned by a national referendum in Ireland, and before that, women had to leave the country to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

This gap in access and affordability is what Gomperts and her multiple abortion care services aim to fill. In the United States, women can obtain consultation and, after a screening process, abortion medication for just $95.

Gomperts could not be reached for comment, but she detailed her new efforts in a recent story in The Atlantic, which reported AidAccess had already served some 600 American women.

Gomperts’ first foray into medical care activism came nearly two decades ago. In 1999, she founded Women on Waves, which sailed international waters on a Greenpeace ship providing women with access to reproductive care, abortion education and services – all while skirting local laws.

Abortion rights advocates Grace Fried, center, Claire Roden and David Tuke demonstrate in view of Philadelphia City Hall Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 on the eve of the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (AP)

That venture pushed Gomperts to found Women on Web, an online service for women seeking abortion medication nearly anywhere on the planet – except the United States. The Dutch doctor worried that serving American patients through Women on Web would jeopardize the entire operation. Instead of taking the risk, she started AidAccess.

Aiken said Gomperts’ organizations provide women with the correct doses, proper instructions, warnings and appropriate after-care procedures to safely self-manage their abortions at home.

Of course, not everyone is satisfied with the efforts. Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said the program poses problems for women.

“Telemedicine abortions are kind of more sinister in some ways,” Scheidler said. “They make every location in the world effectively an abortion scene.”

His organization, which primarily focuses its efforts on “public square” advocacy, is staunchly opposed to any kind of abortion. He took issue with arguments that AidAccess helps with issues of the accessibility and affordability of reproductive care.

“I don’t see this falling under the same banner of making healthcare more affordable, because having an abortion isn’t healthcare,” he said.

Aiken’s research shows that the reasons for women seeking a self-managed medical abortion are as myriad as the women themselves. Beyond their choices, she said programs like AidAccess provide an unmistakable benefit for marginalized women who have trouble overcoming the barriers to access.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications,” Aiken said. “If you’re a poor woman, you can’t. … AidAccess is trying to provide a way for women to do this at home.”

Abortion restrictions prompt international activists to provide care in America

Across the nation, women’s access to reproductive care has been protested, shuttered, legislated and sometimes strictly limited. So much so that an international organization has stepped in to provide abortion consultations and medications to women who face high barriers to care.

AidAccess was recently founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts to provide American women with access to abortion medication. The contentious program operates online, and offers women consultations and mail-delivered abortion medication.

The legality of AidAccess is still undefined. The FDA has said it is investigating the program for any potential legal violations. Currently, the administration mandates that mifepristone, one of the two drugs necessary for a successful medical abortion, must be sold through a tightly-controlled distribution channel.

The Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) employed by the FDA on mifepristone bars the sale of the drug online or through retail pharmacies. Advocates for abortion access argue that REMS is typically used for drugs much more dangerous than abortion pills.

Studies on the abortion pill cocktail found that it was overwhelmingly effective and exceedingly safe. A 2017 study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology medical journal found that of over 8,700 patients who obtained abortion pills through telemedicine services, only .18 percent of them had any complications – none of which resulted in death or even surgery.

Women in the United States have had trouble accessing telemedicine abortion services that competently meet their care needs. Abigail Aiken, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, studied online abortion options.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications. If you’re a poor woman, you can’t."

— Abigail Aiken, assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin

Aiken’s work found that many online options either can’t sell the medication online, or if they do, are woefully short on instructions and information. She said women turn to online options for a variety of reasons. Some prefer their privacy, others don’t have access to clinics, and some face financial and logistic limitations to meeting their state’s requirements for a legal abortion.

“From a public health perspective, there is a harm-reduction justification for helping people to avoid resorting to ineffective or unsafe abortion methods,” she wrote in the study.

Particularly at risk for unsafe self-managed abortions are economically and geographically marginalized women. In this sense, she said she has noticed parallels between her research on abortion access in Ireland and in the United States.

“The actual options available to people in the two countries are strikingly similar,” Aikens said. “That problem of access continues.”

She said the country is effectively living in a post-Roe v. Wade world, where access to abortion care is severely limited for women in much of the country and varies greatly from state to state.

Aiken sees parallels for women in rural Texas or Ireland. She said obtaining a safe abortion in both places often means traveling hours to a clinic and paying hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket. Texas state law doesn’t allow the use of Medicaid or other public funds to pay for an abortion. A 35-year ban on the procedure was recently overturned by a national referendum in Ireland, and before that, women had to leave the country to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

This gap in access and affordability is what Gomperts and her multiple abortion care services aim to fill. In the United States, women can obtain consultation and, after a screening process, abortion medication for just $95.

Gomperts could not be reached for comment, but she detailed her new efforts in a recent story in The Atlantic, which reported AidAccess had already served some 600 American women.

Gomperts’ first foray into medical care activism came nearly two decades ago. In 1999, she founded Women on Waves, which sailed international waters on a Greenpeace ship providing women with access to reproductive care, abortion education and services – all while skirting local laws.

Abortion rights advocates Grace Fried, center, Claire Roden and David Tuke demonstrate in view of Philadelphia City Hall Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 on the eve of the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (AP)

That venture pushed Gomperts to found Women on Web, an online service for women seeking abortion medication nearly anywhere on the planet – except the United States. The Dutch doctor worried that serving American patients through Women on Web would jeopardize the entire operation. Instead of taking the risk, she started AidAccess.

Aiken said Gomperts’ organizations provide women with the correct doses, proper instructions, warnings and appropriate after-care procedures to safely self-manage their abortions at home.

Of course, not everyone is satisfied with the efforts. Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said the program poses problems for women.

“Telemedicine abortions are kind of more sinister in some ways,” Scheidler said. “They make every location in the world effectively an abortion scene.”

His organization, which primarily focuses its efforts on “public square” advocacy, is staunchly opposed to any kind of abortion. He took issue with arguments that AidAccess helps with issues of the accessibility and affordability of reproductive care.

“I don’t see this falling under the same banner of making healthcare more affordable, because having an abortion isn’t healthcare,” he said.

Aiken’s research shows that the reasons for women seeking a self-managed medical abortion are as myriad as the women themselves. Beyond their choices, she said programs like AidAccess provide an unmistakable benefit for marginalized women who have trouble overcoming the barriers to access.

“If you have money and resources, you can access these medications,” Aiken said. “If you’re a poor woman, you can’t. … AidAccess is trying to provide a way for women to do this at home.”