No Wafer for Rudy

Giuliani campaigns as a Catholic, but he's on the outs with God

Giuliani even maintained an extraordinary abortion option unavailable in most American cities. Back in the 1980s, Mayor Ed Koch guaranteed that no woman who wanted an abortion would be denied one in New York. Koch decided, without any statutory mandate, that the city would pay for abortions even if they weren't medically necessarythe requirement under federal Medicaid laws. He also decided that the city would cover abortions, regardless of whether they were performed at HHC or a private facility, for women earning as much as 85 percent over the Medicaid eligibility standard. Paoli, who was also one of Giuliani's human-resources commissioners, says Giuliani never rescinded Koch's purely discretionary decision. "He was so gung ho on abortion," Paoli says, "we said to one another: 'Can't somebody tell him not to go so far?' " May Del Rio, the Planned Parenthood spokeswoman at the time, recalls: "Rudy Giuliani continued that very humane policy, and discontinuing it was never even discussed."

It's impossible to reconcile that record with Giuliani's presidential pose on abortion, just as it's impossible to match his Catholic candidacy with his marital history. One of his prime claims to the presidency, emphasized on the stump, is his slashing of the city's welfare rolls. But even as he found brutal new ways to cut the poor off the dole, he was using millions in city funds to subsidize abortions for women whose incomes were too high to meet eligibility standards.

His support of abortion rights gave Giuliani a certain liberal cachet in New York, just as his tabloid sex life added to his macho profile. These images are less helpful to him now, and he is counting on the fog of 9/11 to obscure these personal and policy reversals. It's a stretch, and even someone as politically flexible as Rudy Giuliani may not be quite that elastic.

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