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."

But records show that Giuliani's claims are bogus.

Adoptions only increased by 17 percent if you measure them the same way that Giuliani measured the 16 percent decline in abortions. But Giuliani is comparing something else: the adoption total for his eight years versus the total for the eight years that immediately preceded them, contrasting the very different historical epochs of 1986 and 2001—a statistical non sequitur.

In fact, adoptions went up and abortions went down in only one of Giuliani's eight years as mayor. Otherwise, they moved in unison, either up or down—clearly demonstrating that an increase in adoptions did not produce a decrease in abortions. In 1997, for example, the final year of Giuliani's first term, adoptions peaked at 4,009. But that was also when abortions peaked in the Giuliani era, at 104,344 (adoptions are calculated on a fiscal-year basis and abortions on a calendar year). The only year that abortions declined and adoptions went up was 1995, which was the year before Giuliani created the Administration for Children Services, the agency he claims prompted the adoption-over-abortion revolution. Both abortions and adoptions then dropped for every year of his second term—as they have ever since, under the proudly pro-abortion Michael Bloomberg.

Neither Giuliani nor anyone in his administration ever claimed at the time to have a program designed to encourage adoption as an alternative to abortion. In 2001, for example, the Mayor's Management Report stated that the purpose of ACS was "to expedite permanent families for children by reducing the length of time children remain in foster care prior to family reunification or adoption." Fran Reiter, the Giuliani deputy mayor and campaign manager who was also his key adviser on abortion policy, says: "Nick Scoppetta, the ACS commissioner, was at the morning cabinet meetings. No one said that the policies had anything to do with abortion. He was trying to get kids out of foster care. It was never tied to the lessening of the number of abortions." Lilliam Paoli, who was the Human Resources Administrator under Giuliani, adds: "The increase in adoptions had to do with all the kids backed up in the foster-care system. There was a huge push to move them out. It had absolutely nothing to do with choice." Given an opportunity to support his friend of 40 years, Scoppetta declined to comment on Giuliani's current claims.

The most telling rebuttal of Giuliani comes from a New York University professor, Trudy Festinger, who studied the children adopted in 1997 and 1998. The median age of the children was 8.1 years in 1997 and 8.4 years in 1998. Most had been in foster care for years, with only eight percent spending "three years or less in care prior to being adopted." The kids were typically almost four years old before the city even formally decided that they should be targeted for adoption.

In other words, not exactly newborns.

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