Abortion in New York City

A Breakpoint commentary from January linked to a couple of New York Times articles about abortion in its home city. The abortion rate in New York is 41%, and it’s 60% for unborn black babies according to this William McGurn column in the Wall Street Journal. In the TimesAriel Kaminer describes the ease of getting abortions in New York: few if any restrictions and many options for procedures. Kaminer also contrasts the casual availability of abortions before the 13th week of pregnancy (88% of abortions in New York) with the heartache that accompanies late-term abortions. Both Breakpoint and Kaminer link to this Times article that describes the response of some Christian and Jewish clergy to the report. This second article also cites the 60% statistic for black babies and links to this report from the city (it is a report about 2009 released in December 2010).

A while back, Douglas at Embracing the Risk linked to this 2005 article by Ryan Lizza that gives a history of abortion laws in New York. Lizza argues that New York has been the abortion capital of America in three periods: much of the 1800s, the early 1970s, and the 21st century.

I’m always struck by the arguments of those who portray abortion as a positive thing, especially since most defenders of abortion rights in the public square describe it as something of a necessary evil (I noted this earlier this year here):

Despite the state’s overwhelming support for legalization, New Yorkers, like Americans generally, start to get queasy when confronted with the best weapons in the pro-life movement’s arsenal: graphic descriptions of rarely used late-term-abortion methods, and the fact that thousands of New York women return each year to clinics for a third or fourth abortion. When we nod our heads at Bill Clinton’s famous formulation that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” or Hillary Clinton’s more recent proclamation that abortion is “a sad, even tragic choice,” we admit some discomfort with the procedure.

Among New York’s pro-choice leaders, reaction to this message is divided. Political groups like NARAL say they understand the need for conceding to public opinion. But to providers, the Clintonian reframing of the issue capitulates to pro-lifers. “Hillary can say anything she wants about whether an abortion is a tragedy,” says Dr. Paul. “What I know when I perform an abortion for a patient is that the overwhelming feeling is one of relief. Because the abortion has solved a huge problem in her life, whether it’s because she couldn’t afford another child, couldn’t afford to be a good mother to another child, or doesn’t have the money to raise a child.” She becomes increasingly passionate as she speaks. “Every time I do an abortion I save a woman’s life. If you want to call that a tragedy”—she pauses and exhales a sharp sigh—“I don’t consider it a tragedy, I’m sorry.” Dr. Anne Davis of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center thinks that even as New York retains its status as a restrictionless oasis, the larger war over normalizing abortion is being lost. “We would like to keep abortion part of regular medical care,” she says. “Our view is, abortion is nothing special. Abortion is right up there with having a baby or getting the care for whatever other medical needs you have.”

Of course, these views are predicated on completely ignoring the baby, who has no rights that could possibly outweigh the “problem” he or she would cause.

Douglas also suggests that the use of contraceptives also may lead to more, not less, abortions, contrary to the conventional wisdom. Check out his whole post for more.



  1. “Sometimes they won’t even look at me the day of the procedure; they won’t speak to me. That I despise. I really hate that.” -Dr. Berg

    That quote really struck me. Does he really expect women to treat him like a normal doctor when he is killing their (late-term) fetus? Killing one’s offspring is not the same as killing a cancerous tumor. I would think such a reaction would be expected.

    The other thing that struck me was how a clergy-organized ring of underground/illegal abortion clinics in NYC was spearheaded by a Texas-born Baptist. Most evangelical and Baptist denominations have sure come a long way on this issue, especially when contrasted with Anglicans and the like. It is rather encouraging. That said, I find the 90% abortion rate for D.S. kids to be particularly frightening. It makes me wonder if most pro-life gains are at most illusory and superficial when I know that I can look around at almost any church service and know for a fact that over half the people (and probably well over 75%) would kill their offspring if they were diagnosed with D.S. in utero.

  2. Yeah, it’s amazing to hear abortion doctors’ views on these things sometimes. It’s just another procedure; it helps the woman, etc. I hope for some that reaction will lead them to repentance, but of course it is difficult to walk away from your livelihood.

    The 90% figure for DS is one of the most shocking, even terrifying, things that I’ve ever heard. I think you’re right to make the connection that Christians are deeply implicated in this. There probably needs to be much more teaching on this in churches.

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