Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, William McGurn asks a serious question:
Are babies better than abortion?
Mr. McGurn is responding to a sobering new study recently released from the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a private nonprofit organization. He writes:
After crunching the latest statistics from New York City’s Health Department, the foundation reported that 41% of pregnancies (excluding miscarriage) in New York ended in abortion. That’s double the national rate.
As a society, does this figure say anything about the choice between a baby and abortion? Even for those who believe the choice for an abortion belongs to a woman alone and ought to be unfettered by city, state or federal law, is there any ratio such a person would say is too high?
The question becomes even more compelling when broken down by race. For Hispanics, the abortion rate was 41.3%—i.e., more than double the rate for whites. For African-Americans the numbers are still more grim: For every 1,000 African-American live births in New York, there were 1,489 abortions.
Earlier this month, representatives from the Chiaroscuro Foundation organized a press conference in New York City that brought together a broad coalition: The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, the Reverend Michel Faulkner, founder and pastor of the New Horizon Church in Harlem; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America; and Leslie Diaz, spokeswoman of Democrats for Life, among others.
The goal was simple but significant: to bring attention to the tragedy of abortion and forge practical dialogue between representatives of the most affected groups.
Unfortunately, as McGurn points out, the Mayor of New York City didn’t attend the press conference nor has he responded to the crisis surrounding the rising abortion rates in New York City. If anything, New York City’s leadership appears bent on supporting policies that will make abortion more, not less common. McGurn writes:
The speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, is pushing a bill designed to make it harder for people who are trying to help women keep their babies. Bill 371 targets Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and would require them, among other things, to advertise on site that they do not perform abortions or provide abortion referrals. It tells us something that there appears to be no interest in requiring that, say, Planned Parenthood post in their clinics some telling information of their own: 324,008 abortions nationwide against only 2,405 adoption referrals in 2008, the most recent year for which it reports statistics.
I began today’s reflection by mentioning the Chiaroscuro Foundation. The word “chiaroscuro” is “an artistic technique characterized by strong contrasts between light and dark.” What’s unfolding in New York City (and all around the world for that matter) regarding the sanctity of life is just that – a contrast between what is right and wrong, between life and death.
As believers, we’re called to be bright light in a dark world (Matthew 5:16, 6:22, Luke 11:35, John 1:5). However grim and sobering these new statistics, I pray they will embolden – not discourage – us to tackle the job at hand. It’s not easy. It’s never been easy. But may our prayer for strength echo the words of the old hymnist who once wrote: “We’ll walk in the light, beautiful light, Come where the dewdrops of mercy are bright, Shine all around us by day and by night, Jesus, the light of the world.”