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Bloomberg's plan is particularly notable because it commits public resources to abortion when, nationally, the trend has been in the other direction. Since a 1992 Supreme Court decision allowed the state of Missouri to refuse to use public funds to pay for abortions, government involvement in abortion has become particularly dicey. Pro-life groups are unlikely to let the mayor's proposal go unchallenged.
"Abortion is an elective procedure that indisputably ends the life of a child. For the mayor to elevate this to the level of medical care is dreadful," says Lori Hougens, spokesperson for the New York State Right to Life Committee. "I'm sure it's going to be a violation of the law."
Hougens wouldn't say whether her group is planning a lawsuit. But even in New Yorkwhere abortion was legalized three years before the Supreme Court established the right nationally and which is now one of only 15 states that allow Medicaid to pay for abortionsthe pro-choice movement's new best friend can expect hurdles ahead. Some of the medical schools that have training contracts with HHC, such as New York Medical College, are associated with the Archdiocese of New York, which is opposed to all abortion. And while the mayor has also suggested that Medicaid recipients shouldn't be assigned to managed-care plans that don't provide abortions, Right to Life's Hougens warns that such a move would discriminate against Catholic managed-care plans.
Bloomberg has floated yet another pro-choice proposal: to require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to all victims of sexual assault brought to their emergency rooms. In sum, Hougens refers to the new mayor's reproductive-policy plans as a "tragic disgrace."
Abortion war veterans are used to the rhetoric. "There will be some concerns raised," predicts Joan Malin, CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York Citybut she is nonetheless optimistic that, if he turns out to have the political will, Bloomberg will be able to push through his plan.