It was in this early memo that she crystallized the issue in her mind.

“When does the soul enter the body is the #1 question,” she wrote. “Not when does life begin, as life begins in a flower or an animal with the first cell. So the question is does the life begin (soul entering the body) at conception or at the moment the first breath is taken? If the answer to that question is at conception, then abortion is murder. If the answer to that question is the moment the first breath is taken, then abortion is not murder.”

As with many profound questions, she thought about the lessons she had taken from the life and death of her daughter Robin. Her beloved 3-year-old had died of leukemia in 1953, after six months of brutal treatments and dashed hopes. The tragedy would shape everything from Bush’s views on big issues to her impatience with prattle.

“What does Barbara Bush feel about abortion,” she wrote in the memo, referring to herself in the third person. She decided that Robin had answered the question she posed.