Today Bishop DiMarzio and I released a formal statement concerning Intro 371, the bill before the New York City Council that would require crisis pregnancy centers to, among other things, display signs detailing the services that they do not provide, like abortion. You can read the statement here.
This controversy over Intro 371 reminds me of a conversation I had not too long ago with a dedicated woman medical professional who works in one of the wonderful crisis pregnancy centers here in New York City. “Archbishop,” she said to me, “we’re here to help women who want an alternative to abortion. We don’t get massive subsidies from the government like the abortion clinics. We sure don’t have the well-heeled donors Planned Parenthood has. Why are some people trying so hard to get rid of us? Why is the city government harassing us? All we want is to be left alone to do our work.”
It’s a good question, and one I couldn’t answer.
It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of places to get an abortion in New York City. It grieves me to think that we can be called the abortion capital of the world, as 41% of all pregnancies in New York end in abortion. If a woman in this city wants an abortion, it is distressingly easy to get one.
It’s also not as if this kind of bill hasn’t been tried elsewhere and been found wanting. A similar law was recently declared unconstitutional in Baltimore. Why then would our City Council spend valuable time and energy promoting this type of harassing bill? Aren’t there more pressing concerns with our City’s budget, with the education system, with basics like pothole repair?
And if an industry ever needed more oversight and regulation, it’s the abortion industry, as the recent horrors from Pennsylvania demonstrated. Yet it is the little pregnancy care centers that come under attack.
This asks the delicate question if people who claim to be “pro-choice,” but seek to silence anyone who would help a woman to have her baby, are really interested in “choice” at all. Witness the recent gag-order imposed on a pro-life billboard last week. These pregnancy centers will not only help a mother to give birth, but they will also find her assistance if she wants to keep her baby, or help the mother find a good home for her child through adoption. Sure, they’ll never have the big donors or flashy celebrity support that the abortion centers have, but they are making a real difference in the lives of these women and their babies, pre-born and born.
So, why the major push to get rid of these centers and the dedicated, humble, loving people who work there? Why can’t they just be left alone to do their work?
I didn’t have the answer for my friend. Because I don’t think there is one.