Rudy Adopts New Shtick

Records put the lie to Giuliani's new claims that he used adoption to cut down on abortions

Last week, Rudy Giuliani made a pilgrimage to Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia to deliver his one-note anti-terrorism stump speech, and was welcomed by thousands of clapping Christians. Judy Woodruff said on Meet the Press that Robertson had endorsed Giuliani, but, in fact, when Robertson introduced him, the praise fell a few calculated phrases shy of a formal endorsement, apparently to protect the tax-exempt status of Robertson's vast empire.

The "embrace," as Tim Russert described it, was bizarre for both. Having famously disparaged Congressman Ron Paul for falsely invoking 9/11, Giuliani now appears strangely untroubled by Robertson's prior references to the attack, which have stirred a whirlwind of condemnation elsewhere. And having built a heavenly colossus on earth around a pro-life and anti-gay theology, Robertson suddenly seems comfortable with a candidate who hosted anniversary celebrations of Roe v. Wade at City Hall and enacted the most progressive domestic-partnership legislation in the country.

It was Robertson, after all, who had Jerry Falwell on his Christian Broadcasting Network show The 700 Club two days after 9/11, where the two spent about 10 trigger-happy minutes going after the people whom they held partly responsible for the murder of 3,000 Americans that day. Feminists. Lesbians. The ACLU. Abortionists. Christ-haters. Gays.

God allowed "the enemies of America to give us what we deserve," opined Falwell, to amens from Robertson. At the end of this litany of homegrown culprits, Falwell declared: "I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" Robertson's immediate response—"Well, I totally concur"—was supplemented by the invocation of his own personal bugaboo, federal judges. "The problem is, we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government," he said, namely "the court system." After nearly a week of hubbub, the duo apologized.

Then, in 2005, Robertson appeared on ABC's This Week and baffled host George Stephanopoulos by saying that federal judges posed "a more serious threat" to America "than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." Robertson subsequently explained this comment in a letter to a complaining U.S. senator: "Supreme Court decisions which have led to the wanton slaughter of 40 million unborn babies," as well as the "assault on human sexuality" and "the potential destruction of marriage," were, among others, "graver dangers than the terrorists." The mother of one dead firefighter accused Robertson of marginalizing "the tragedy for the purpose of shock value."

If Giuliani is willing to overlook Robertson's 9/11 history, Robertson is just as eager to bypass Giuliani's social-issue record. In 2004, when Robertson was on the stump against John Kerry, he assailed Kerry's vote against a ban on so-called "partial birth" abortion, which, Robertson explained, meant Kerry was for infanticide. "I think Jesus would be against infanticide, don't you?" he added. Well, Rudy Giuliani didn't just oppose the ban—he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 1998 that, in New York, late-term abortion "certainly works." While Giuliani was mayor, the city became a mecca for late terminations, with the Department of Health acknowledging that in 2000, nearly 1,700 women traveled here for one—more than six per working day. In Giuliani's final two years as mayor, 2000 and 2001, 24,008 late-term abortions were performed in the city—more than 13 percent of all abortions here, well ahead of the national rate.

The city's Health & Hospitals Corporation, which Giuliani directly controlled, did thousands of late-term abortions over his eight years in office—so much so that a National Abortions Rights Action League study in 2000 called HHC "the last resort for women with later abortions needs or complications." And contrary to Giuliani's 1998 assurances to Blitzer about the "very, very strict procedure" that the city followed in performing the abortions, some city facilities were nightmarishly out of date. Examining the Giuliani-era data alone, NARAL found that "several" city hospitals were employing "archaic second trimester methods," with "ninety-eight percent of the large volume of second trimester abortions at Kings County Hospital" performed by methods "unnecessarily difficult for the patient." On the other hand, NARAL said that another city hospital, Jacobi, was "relied upon by the city's medical community for its physician skill in late term cases," and was so busy that the "delays" in performing abortions could "span three to four weeks," making difficult cases "even more medically challenging." If a Democratic candidate for president had actually managed a hospital system that had become a regional magnet for those seeking late-term abortions, and had been using both antiquated and very modern methods for the procedure, Robertson might be adding him either to his list of 9/11 culprits, or to his more recent litany of people posing "graver threats" than the terrorists.

Twice during an interview last week on the Robertson-created and now Disney-owned Christian Broadcasting Network, Giuliani argued that he "reduced abortion" as mayor by "increasing adoptions." Giuliani has been offering up this tantalizing equation for weeks, at both presidential debates and in the rare interviews he's granted on national television, like Fox's Hannity & Colmes. "What a president can do is reduce abortions, increase adoptions," he told CBN. "We've already done that in New York City. That's what I did—I saw abortions go down 16 percent, 18 percent, saw adoptions go up 135 percent." His campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, said it even more directly: "Abortions went down while he was mayor because he cut through red tape, increased the availability of adoptions."

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