At the Jan. 1 inauguration ceremony for New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, the Rev. Frederick Lucas, pastor of the Brooklyn Community Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, invoked God’s help to “let the plantation called New York City be the city of God.” While he was echoing Mr. de Blasio’s concerns about inequality — and his “tale of two cities” references, many denounced the rhetoric. Even the editorial board at The New York Times described the inauguration day speeches as “backward-looking, both graceless and smug.”
For those in the pro-life community, though, Mr. Lucas‘ words may have had some resonance. Pro-lifers know that for the unborn, especially the unborn children of black women, New York City has become a cruel place where unwanted children are easily discarded. In fact, there are some New York City neighborhoods — including Mr. Lucas‘ own Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood — where many more babies are aborted each year than are allowed to be born.
An analysis of New York City abortion rates and ratios by ZIP code published by the Chiaroscuro Foundation reveals that Bedford-Stuyvesant has the highest rate of abortion in Brooklyn at 59 percent. This means that there are 59 abortions to every 100 pregnancies in Mr. Lucas‘ neighborhood. While that may seem high, the abortion rates in Jamaica, Queens, and Southeast Queens, and Central Harlem-Morningside Heights are all well in excess of 60 percent.
New York is indeed a tale of two cities. While more than half of the pregnancies in many of New York City’s black and Hispanic neighborhoods end in death for the unborn child, only 6 percent of the pregnancies for women living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side ZIP code of 10162 end in abortion. Only 6.7 percent of all the pregnancies in the lower Manhattan ZIP code of 10282 end similarly. Likewise, Brooklyn’s Borough Park 11219 ZIP code has an abortion ratio of 8.6 percent, and even Long Island City-Astoria in Queens has a comparatively lower abortion ratio of 16.9 percent.
The tale is even worse for New York City’s teens — especially the city’s black teens. According to the New York City Department of Health, among non-Hispanic black teens, the abortion rate is 72 percent. What this means is that for every 1,000 black babies born to teens, 2,630 were aborted.
According to the most recent abortion data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 29, white women in New York City have a rate of abortion of 11.5 percent, while the city’s black women have an overall rate of 48.1 percent, and Hispanic women have an abortion rate of 33.8 percent.
To understand the dramatic discrepancies in abortion rates, it is helpful to look at U. S. Census Bureau data on households in 2010 and correlate this data with the abortion data. Such correlations reveal that the New York City ZIP codes with the highest abortion ratios also have some of the highest percentages of families with female householders — with no husband present.
Things will likely get worse for the unborn in New York City. As a candidate, Mr. de Blasio issued a position paper titled “Standing With the Women of New York City” in which he promised to work with abortion providers to “ensure adequate protection for clinic access by ensuring close coordination with the NYPD.” He also promised to “work with nonprofit providers to identify neighborhoods underserved by reproductive health services.”
Worse, Mr. de Blasio vowed to close down the pro-life crisis pregnancy centers by promising to “continue New York City’s appeal of a judge’s order overturning New York’s local law to regulate sham crisis-pregnancy centers.” Mr. de Blasio pledged to work to “craft new regulations to prevent these centers from masquerading as legitimate health care providers.” For Mr. de Blasio, pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers — those that offer pregnancy testing, counseling as well as financial and practical assistance to women faced with unplanned pregnancies — are “sham” clinics because they do not offer “legitimate health care” through abortion.
Mr. de Blasio will have plenty of help in continuing to expand the tale of two cities through abortion. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act has promised women access to abortion on demand, throughout the entire nine-month pregnancy. He has also proposed that such abortions may be performed by doctors and non-doctors alike. President Obama has done even more to help increase the number of abortions for New York City’s poorest women through his Affordable Care Act. Unless things change, this tale will end badly for the poorest and most helpless in the city — and beyond.
Anne Hendershott is professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the co-author of “Renewal” (Encounter Books, 2013).