John Wilson, a guy who I love to talk with, has an op-ed in the New York Post about the abortion rate in New York City.

According to the city Health Department, 2008 saw 89,469 abortions performed in New York City — seven for every 10 live births. Among black women, abortions out number live births by three to two.

Quinn: Speaker won’t discuss city’s tops-in-nation abortion rate.

In other words, the reality in New York is about as far as possible from Bill Clinton’s proposition that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Yet, of the 51 City Council members, only five — Republicans Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran and Democrats Peter Vallone Jr., James Sanders and Danny Dromm, all of Queens — were willing to call that abortion rate “too high.”

“I don’t think those numbers are meaningful,” said Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. “I don’t tell people whether they should have two kids, four kids or 10 kids.” One council aide even fretted that a lower abortion rate would bankrupt the city.

Speaker Christine Quinn refused to answer at all, offering only the canned response that “we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies . . . by expanding access to contraceptives and increasing sex education.”
Interestingly, one dissenter from New York’s abortion taboo is former state Sen. Franz Leichter — who sponsored the legalization bill when he was in the Assembly in 1970. The abortion rate “is higher than anyone wanted to see,” he says — and “my support for abortion rights . . . is as strong as anyone’s.”

Why the silence? Perhaps it’s a concern that New York’s pro-choice majority is not as solid as it seems, and that talking candidly about the issue will only make matters worse.

Interesting points, but I don’t think the issue is the support for abortion rights but rather the fiscal support for single pregnant women. The question becomes how do we, as Catholics, support these women not just in the effort to bring their child to term but to actually support them.

The “sad truth” is that most actually don’t care. Most are unwilling to put their own lives on the back burner to take up the cause of injustice and poverty. If we all really cared, we’d all be welcoming these people into our lives and making THEM a priority instead of our own wants.

And I really wonder how many Republicans might be on board with that in addition to their overwhelming support for life? And how many democrats would have enough heart to say that abortion is murder instead of saying that question of when life begins is “above their pay grade” as President Obama said.

Perhaps God is continually calling all of us to open our eyes to see the entire tree in our eye as opposed to the log that is usually there when it comes to this question?

Read more of John’s column here:

0 thoughts on “NYC had nearly 90,000 abortions last year?!”
  1. I’ve always taken issue with the (largely unquestioned on the left) narrative that conservatives oppose abortion but don’t care about living children. The argument tends to rest on that lack of Republican support for social spending.

    The problem is that this discounts private philanthropy entirely. To my ear, Jesus preached charity as a personal mandate and not as a political agenda.

    The Archdiocese of New York provides pregnany counselling, maternity services, day care, youth activities, schooling. Plenty of other charities, both religious and secular, do likewise.

    It strikes me as more fair – and more productive – to speak positively about the services that already exist and encourage people to support them, rather than to cast aspersions.

  2. That’s an awfully cynical way of viewing charity. And even if true, at least voluntary giving represents a real personal sacrifice. I know far too many people who think they do their part for the poor simply by voting Democrat.

    1. That’s a fair point, I suppose. I know too many rich people though who make no efforts to get to know the people that they claim to care about by throwing money at them. Seems a bit too Marie Antoinette to me.

      And I know too many people who claim to be pro-life simply because they voted for Bush who had a lot of people killed both foreign and domestic and killed many on death row as well.

  3. Getting people personally involved is always going to be a challenge. On the other hand, a high wage earner probably does more good by donating a day of their wages than a day of their time, even if it’s impersonal.

    The moral implications of a particular vote is a sticky subject. There are plenty who see no conflict in a pro-life / pro-death penalty stance, and the justness of particular wars will be a subject of debate for centuries to come. And there’s the question of how you weigh the casualties of war against the casualties of abortion.

    (By the way, I hope I’m not coming off as too critical. I actually agree with the premise that people have a tendency to fulfill their obligations with as little effort as possible.)

  4. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the kind words, and for sharing this. To answer your question: Even as a true-believing small-government conservative, I would absolutely be on board with expanding the social safety net if I thought it would decrease the number of abortions.

    The problem is, I don’t think it would. If you look at the last 15 years, the abortion rate has declined nationwide at the same time that welfare rolls have been slashed dramatically. I’m not saying there’s direct causation here one way or the other, but as I try to suggest in my column, one of the tragedies of abortion on demand is the cultural signal it sends, especially to young men, that their actions need not have consequences in terms of providing for their offspring. Reducing the abortion debate to a question of social services completely neglects the importance of personal responsibility.

    That said, if we’re talking about the importance of more individuals getting to know the circumstances of these women’s lives, I couldn’t agree with you more. But then, what would make a Republican less likely to do that then a Democrat?

    One final point: I’d argue that the legal question IS, in fact, “the issue” — or at least, that we shouldn’t downplay its importance. Supporting women and their children after birth is important, too, but if one truly believes that a developing fetus is a human life — and that all life, regardless of its socioeconomic status, is precious, then the most important thing is that the child live. Laws restricting access to abortion have by far the most direct impact in reducing the abortion rate — and besides, protecting unborn children in law is a simple matter of social justice, if that word has any meaning at all.

    1. Thanks for weighing in, John.

      I like the thoughts in your last paragraph. I don’t agree that the legality of abortion is the issue, per se. If we are convinced that the fetus is human life than the law shouldn’t matter to us. Bishop Chaput of Denver often makes the same argument. If we have our convictions than the law shouldn’t stop us from protecting innocent life.

      The biggest factor in choosing abortion is fear of being unable to economically support the child. So if we want a deterrent to abortion, I don’t think we have a choice in making that a priority now because the law isn’t going to change anytime soon.

      What if we did this? What if the U.S. Bishops invited all Catholics to give $100 tax deductible a year to support a mother who brings her child to term. Each mother can get earmarked $30,000. A parish of 20,000 households would bring in 200K, enough for nearly 7 families. Multiply that by 300 dioceses and 2100 families get served if just one parish participates. 10 participates and you’re at 20K.

      The problem that exists is that people aren’t moved to give. Just as they aren’t really moved to help the homeless, or the elderly in huge numbers either. We all (myself included) are far too self-involved.

      That, my friend might be the bigger sin. People don’t care enough. Perhaps they never did.

  5. Amen to most of that, Mike, but hold on a second. The law shouldn’t matter to us? Obviously, the law shouldn’t prevent us from doing what we can in the circumstances we’re presented with. But Catholic social justice teaching is pretty darn clear that where there are injustices built into the laws and policies of a state — i.e., where the law doesn’t acknowledge the human rights of its people — it’s a Catholic’s duty to strive to change them. Would you or would you not tell me I was full of it if I contended that it doesn’t matter whether or not I support a plainly unjust war, on the grounds that if the Church really cared it could do everything in its power to help the refugees?

  6. Of course–but that’s not the argument. I don’t assume that the war will end simply because I asked. I call for respect for life, as well as, justice and peace simply because those are the values that Catholic teaching upholds.

    The measure I call for here is prudence. If the abortion laws don’t change tomorrow (and they won’t) what are we doing in the meantime? If the abortion laws DID change in the meantime would we STILL uphold the basic needs for the poor who need our support to raise their children whether the abortion laws are on the books or not.

    My point is that merely working on changing the laws without a holistic approach to the systemic problems of people not caring in general about the unborn because of their own self-concern (nor their parents, especially the mother). We ignore the irresponsibility of men who leave women to fend for themselves (and in fairness the whole “It’s her body and she can do what she wants” mentality contributes much here) and we do little to address the fact that poverty is the main factor that women choose abortion.

    Now there’s not much we can do about the law other than to keep beating our heads against the wall until people listen–which is actually a worthwhile activity–if we call for it WHILE we do other things.

    Moving hearts with charity, namely loving others in Christ’s name is what we are called to do here. Lobbying for a change in a law without doing more than that is a convenient cop-out.

  7. The impulse is good, but I don’t think earmarking a particular dollar amount is the right way to approach the problem. For starters, by asking for a specific dollar amount you’re only encouraging the donate and forget pattern you cited earlier.

    Focusing specifically on women who might otherwise abort also creates potential pitfalls. A single mother who embraces her pregnancy might rightly ask if her needs are somehow less important, and some outside the faith could easily frame it as bribing women into having babies.

    Need is also going to vary drastically depending on circumstances. Some will be blessed with family and friends who help care for a child, while others rely on the charity of strangers. Some will face the additional challenges of a special needs child. Some have other children to consider.

    Ultimately the biggest barrier to progress may not even be soliciting the necessary resources; it may be convincing young women to accept help. Many organizations and individuals actively council women to avoid faith-oriented services, accusing them of lying, misleading and harrassing pregnant women.

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