The Abortion Capital of America

Abortion scandals have been making headlines this past month. In Pennsylvania, abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell was indicted for allegedly committing numerous gruesome acts including post-birth abortions on babies done by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. In the neighboring state of New Jersey, an undercover sting caught a Planned Parenthood counselor telling a “pimp” that underage prostitutes could get abortions at the clinic. And 2010 statistics released by New York City’s Health Department revealed that the number of abortions performed in the Big Apple were twice the national average. Forty-one percent of all pregnancies — about 90,000 — were terminated.

The breakdown by minority groups in New York is frightful. The abortion rate for African-Americans is 60 percent and for Hispanics 41 percent. The City’s poorest borough, the Bronx, had the highest number of abortions, followed by Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. An alarmed Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., a state senator from the Bronx, warned a group of ministers that abortion is an attack on minorities: “They are killing black and Hispanic children.”

New York’s political establishment has had little public reaction to these startling statistics. But that’s not surprising, because many of its movers and shakers take pride that they live in the state that was the first to legalize abortion.

Here’s a little history:

In March of 1970, New York Senate Majority Leader Earl Brydges permitted a no-restrictions abortion bill sponsored by upstate Senator Clinton Dominick to come to the floor for debate. Brydges, an ardent abortion foe, who for years had bottled up various abortion bills introduced by successors of Margaret Sanger, figured he would get people off his back by permitting a vote on legislation he was certain would be defeated.

After five hours of fiery debate, however, the bill managed to pass with a vote of 31 for, 26 against. Staten Island’s Senator John Marchi, a revered pro-lifer and a leading debater against the bill, was shocked that the bill received such support. “Abortion had barely entered into the public dialogue,” he said. “I remember attending the [state] Constitutional Convention of 1967, and there wasn’t a single bill on the subject, nor was there any advocacy.”

Archbishop Timothy Dolan: refusing to simply “shiver over these chilling statistics.”

When the bill hit the assembly chamber, it was amended to restrict abortions after twenty-four weeks. On March 30, the first vote failed by 3 votes to get the needed majority of 76 votes. Another roll call took place on April 9, and when it was announced that there were now 74 votes for passage, Assemblyman George Michaels, a Democrat from a predominately Catholic area, took to the floor and stated he was changing his vote to “yea” because one of his sons had called him “a whore” for his earlier vote against the measure. With the votes now at 75 for passage, Republican Speaker Perry Duryea chose to use the chair’s prerogative to cast a vote when it affects the outcome. With that, the nation’s first liberal abortion bill was passed and Governor Rockefeller, whose family foundation had for generations supported the Planned Parenthood agenda, signed it into law on April 11.

Since that time, New York’s power brokers have killed all legislation that would have denied Medicaid funding of abortions and, until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on it, any ban on partial-birth abortion.

The New York Times has gleefully reported that in New York those wishing to procure an abortion can easily find a facility with “fewer obstacles — and more ways to pay” than anywhere else in the nation: “Unlike many other places, New York has not passed laws limiting access to abortions. Patients do not have to return to the clinic on two separate days. They do not have to be told about what the fetus will experience, or have to look at the fetus on a monitor or have the procedure narrated to them in real time. Teenagers do not need parental consent.”

Even as New York faces the worst fiscal crisis in its history, the pro-abortion legislative agenda remains alive in Albany. The “Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act” is being advanced in the state legislature. If approved, children under the age of eighteen will be able to obtain the “morning after pill” without parental consent.

The good news, however, is that New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan refuses to simply “shiver over these chilling statistics.” Dolan, who said for the first time since becoming archbishop that he’s “embarrassed to be a member of a cherished community I now . . .call home,” announced in a press conference with prominent Jewish, African-American, and Hispanic religious leaders, the formation of a new outreach program for young women.

Referring to the city’s appalling abortion data, the archbishop said: “We’ve been hearing for many years from pro-choice supporters that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’. Well, if that’s the goal, we’ve clearly abysmally failed — especially here in New York City.”

Archbishop Dolan reaffirmed the pledge of his two predecessors, John Cardinal O’Connor and Edward Cardinal Egan, “that any woman who is pregnant and in need can come to the Archdiocese for assistance.” He also named an Archdiocese Pro-Life Commission that includes Father Joseph Koterski, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Sean Feiler, Michael and Maria Lewis, Annette Rein, and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan is committed to making sure that New York’s gravestone doesn’t read “Abortion Capital of the World.” He wants its symbol to be the Statue of Liberty, not the “grim reaper.”

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter and Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner. His most recent book is Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.