Where Is the Mayor?
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The blitheness of Mayor Bloomberg toward the impact on New Yorkers of the Christmas blizzard of 2010 is driving down his approval ratings in the polls, despite the fact that the death toll in the storm was relatively modest. So what is one to make of his, and his administration’s, blitheness in respect of the tragedy that the latest statistics on abortion disclose has been unfolding in the city?
The question has been nagging at us following the press conference Thursday at which religious leaders addressed the latest statistics. The numbers — which can be viewed at www.nyc41percent.com — show that in 2009 a staggering 41% of all pregnancies except those that ended in miscarriage ended in abortion. That reflects the count of 87,273 abortions performed in the city in 2009. The ratio of abortions here, nearly double the national ratio, makes New York one of the abortion capitals of the world.
No doubt 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 decline — the ratio peaked at 46% in 1998 — has not been steep. Not only are huge numbers of abortions performed in New York but in some sectors of our population, nearly half of all pregnancies are ended by abortionists. Among African-American women the number approaches a 60%.
Where in the world are the mayor and the rest of the political leadership? It’s not as if these numbers are being presented by marginal figures. Present at the press conference to discuss them were Archbishop Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in Brooklyn; the executive president of the Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi David Zweibel, whose organization is affiliated with the Council of Torah Sages; the Reverend Michael Faulkner of the New Horizon Church in Harlem; and Leslie Dias, spokeswoman of Democrats for Life.
Newspapers and broadcasters covered the story. But the mayor and the government of the city of New York are unheard or unseen on this issue. The mayor can make a federal case out of cigarette smoking in restaurants. He can turn the city inside-out over the making of a French fry in the wrong fat. He can hold an impassioned press conference on the Ground Zero Mosque. But let 87,273 unborn babies be taken by abortion New York in one year, and the mayor stands mute.
It’s not as if the issue is being presented as a question of abortion rights, a point that was underscored by several of the figures at the press conference Thursday. They understand that abortion is unlikely to be outlawed in the city or the state, or nationally, any time soon. This was marked by Rabbi Zweibel, who said that the Orthodox constituency he represents would “welcome the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” which we also believe was, in constitutional terms, wrongly decided. But the rabbi went on to make the larger point.
“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.” He noted that over the past decade the number of pregnancies ended by abortionists was well over 900,000.
“Our different faith traditions may have different perspectives on some of the important theological questions raised by the miracle of human life. But despite our different perspectives, we can all agree that there is something terribly wrong when abortion becomes just another method of birth control.” Asked he: “Can anyone deny, in good faith and conscience, that this drags us down as a humane, civilized society?”
That abortion is claiming a disproportionate number of lives in the minority community was the focus of much of the comment Thursday. In 2009, the number of abortions had by African-American women towered, at 40,798, over the number of live births, which was 27,405. The way the statistics were characterized by Reverend Faulkner is that abortion is “the leading cause of death among African Americans” in the city.
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The reason we focus on the mayor is not just that he is the leader of the city in which these statistics are being reported. It is also that he has charted such a courageous course on immigration, which is a not unrelated issue. Like the cause of human life, after all, the cause of immigration reflects a comprehension of the value and possibilities of even those in the most wretched circumstances. It is a magnificent theme for the mayor of the city whose harbor hosts the Statue of Liberty. The mayor has publicly stated that he would like to be remembered as one of the greatest of the mayors in the city’s history of the city. How is he going to be able to do so while standing silent on an issue of this magnitude?