‘Never, Never, Never’

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The New York Sun

“Never, Never, Never” is the cry Senator Schumer uttered in respect of whether the Senate would pass the funding restrictions on Planned Parenthood wanted by the House of Representatives. Amidst the showdown on the budget he was speaking on the Washington Mall. The question was whether the funding cut would pass the Senate. A video of the senator’s declamation has gone somewhat viral on the Web. Not so, alas, the press conference held in January by the religious leaders in Mr. Schumer’s hometown. The Jewish, Catholic and Protestant clergymen and some lay persons as well were disclosing the fact that in New York City in 2009 a staggering 41% of all pregnancies except those that ended in miscarriage ended in abortion.

That is Mr. Schumer’s hometown, the abortion capital of America. It’s a city in which, in 2009, the year for which the latest figures are available, 87,273 abortions were performed. The ratio at which abortions are performed here is nearly double the ratio nationwide. These columns have previously noted that some will suggest that it’s hard to raise an alarm over abortion when, in the course of the decade, the absolute number of abortions and the ratio have been declining in the city. The ratio peaked in 1998 at 46%. But the decline has been all too slow, as the tragedy eats away at the city. Among African-American women here in New York, the ratio of pregnancies ended by abortion approaches a 60%.

Now Mr. Schumer, who by all accounts is a fine family man, did not make this tragedy, nor is he the only leader in New York who is failing to address it. On the contrary, at the rate things are going the tragedy of abortion in New York is “never, never, never” going to be addressed by our leadership. The state’s senators don’t want to talk about it. The editorial writers barely mention it. The mayor, while moralizing about everything from French fries to smoking, fails to address it — is even described by gothamist.com as “sticking his fingers in his ears and trying to forget the data even exist.” In the thick of the abortion crisis, the city council makes it its business to hamper the work of the crisis pregnancy centers that are trying to help distressed women rescue their pregnancies.

This is the context in which the House of Representatives, the one known as the people’s house, has decided it wants to curb funding for Planned Parenthood. It’s not as if, we have pointed out before, the issue is being presented as a question of abortion rights. Not even the clergy in New York has been pressing that point. Rather it is what to do about the ghastly toll that is being taken by abortion. There are millions of people who, in the midst of two crises — one over the budget and one over abortion — are fit to be tied over the idea that they should be taxed to pay Planned Parenthood anything.

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More broadly the issue is about our priorities as a nation. Even if one accepts the idea that abortion is a woman’s right, a point on which many fine people differ, what is the best broad direction of public policy? It looks like Mr. Schumer has won this round and the Democrats will be able to force Americans who are appalled at the harvest of abortion to fund what Planned Parenthood is doing, at least for this budget. But “never, never, never” is not an uplifting campaign slogan. Eventually, we believe, a far more ennobling vision will assert itself — one in which public policy is designed to foster the growth of our families and to embolden even those in the poorest and most discouraged of our communities to reach for the fulfillment of family in the fullest meaning of the word.

The New York Sun

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