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President George W. Bush Inadvertently Puts Miscarriage in National Spotlight

In an exclusive hour-long interview with Matt Lauer to promote his memoir on Monday evening, former president George W. Bush recounted the very personal story of how he drove his mother, Barbara Bush, to the hospital after she suffered a miscarriage when he was a teenager (starting around the 1:45 mark in this video). In a self-described attempt to illustrate his close relationship to his mother, he told of how she handed him a jar containing the remains of the just-miscarried fetus that she was bringing to the hospital—a moment he ultimately tied to his pro-life views.

In a follow-up interview on the Today Show this morning, President Bush seemed surprised that his admission, for which he had his mother’s permission, had garnered so much attention, including an article devoted to it in Tuesday’s New York Times. Much has been said on all sides about this particular recollection, from opponents of abortion who lauded Bush’s comments about seeing a “little brother or sister” in the jar, to discussions of Barbara Bush’s “unusual” behavior, which is actually what’s currently recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (putting the fetal tissue in a clean container for your doctor’s inspection—not necessarily showing it to your child).

The chatter around the disclosure has been useful in shedding some light on a painful issue that is both incredibly common and also often kept painfully secret. How should women deal with pregnancy loss? Is there a “right” or “healthy” way to handle it? How much mourning is too much? Our newest Project Pregnancy blogger, Lexi Walters Wright, has been writing honestly and openly about pregnancy after two miscarriages. And Jenny Feldon, another of our tremendous Project Pregnancy bloggers, recently asked for advice in supporting a friend of hers who has miscarried twice while she has experienced an uneventful second pregnancy.

Moms, what are your thoughts about the former president’s disclosure? Do we need to learn to speak more openly about pregnancy loss?

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