Catholic Church Abortion-Shames New Yorkers, But of Course They’re Missing the Point


Abortion. Saying the word in the midst of a cocktail party will hush even the most intrepid of irreverent souls. Because even if you’re pro-choice, you can’t actually be pro-abortion, at least not in any public fashion. Baby killing is always, always, always bad. Right? Which is perhaps why the much-maligned pedophile-priest-troubled generally rather sexist and without-a-clue Catholic Church has glommed on to abortion as one of the things it can censure in New York City without fear of public ridicule.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan joined other religious leaders yesterday to “work to reduce the number of abortions” in the city. A valid pursuit! As a city, it turns out, we have a lot of abortions. According to Dolan, via the Wall Street Journal, “That 41% of New York babies are aborted, a percentage even higher in the Bronx and among our African-American babies in the womb, is downright chilling. I invite all to come together to make abortion rare.”

The rest of America reportedly sports a 19% rate of abortion. (It also sports far fewer people per square foot.) But in the 5 boroughs, the abortion percentage breakdown goes like this:

48% in the Bronx
39% in Brooklyn and Queens
38% in Manhattan
32% on Staten Island

The Catholic Church, typically, follows their abortion-shaming with a good dose of sense, criticizing sex-ed programs in public schools that distribute condoms. (Meanwhile, the program to “make abortion rare” remains vague.)

It bears noting that the stats used by the Church were gathered by a nonprofit called the Chiaroscuro Foundation, which is financed by a conservative, religious investment banker. Numbers from the Department of Health actually set the city’s number of abortions slightly lower, at 38.7%, and, according to the New York Times,

The statistics also show the actual number of abortions declining in the last decade. The most recent statistics show that there were 87,273 abortions in 2009, down from 94,466 in 2000.

At the end of all this, though, as we nod and smile and agree that of course we should be having less abortions, we can’t help but wonder: Should we, really? In a perfect world, perhaps, this would not be an issue, but since the world is far from perfect, since women are going to have sex and get pregnant and not actually be in a position to raise a child, or have one gestating in their bodies for 9 months, and since women should always have the right to choose and be supported, and not abortion-shamed, for their decision, isn’t there a time and place for abortions, just like there’s a time and place to have a baby?

So, yeah, we’ll go ahead and be that person at the party who says it. Abortions: Sometimes better than the alternative.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 7, 2011

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