Abortion Rates for Latinos are 2nd Highest in NYC

New York Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan at a a press conference in New York on Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Chiaroscuro Foundation, Diane Bondareff)

New York Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan at a a press conference in New York on Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Chiaroscuro Foundation, Diane Bondareff)

A recent study by the New York City Department of  Health  released statistics that 39% of pregnancies in the city end in abortion. 

According to the report, in 2009 there were 225, 667 pregnancies in the City. Of those, 126,774 resulted in live births and 87,273 resulted in abortions. An additional 11,620 were spontaneous terminations. With the Bronx having the highest abortion rates in the city. Almost half  (46%) of all pregnancies in the Bronx ended in abortion.

The report also highlighted that Blacks and Latinos have the highest numbers of abortions with Blacks accounting for 40,798 abortions and Latinos accounting for 28,364.

With these alarming abortion statistics it comes as no surprise that the Catholic Archdiocese would have an opinion as to how to reduce these numbers.

In a New York City press conference held on January 6th, Archbishop Timothy Dolan gathered with other religious leaders to bring “awareness” to the city’s high abortion rates.

The archbishop’s recommendation to lower these numbers can be summarized in the following statement, “I re-affirm Cardinal John O’Connor’s promise of a quarter-century ago that every woman facing a difficult pregnancy will be provided with free, confidential help of the highest quality from the Archdiocese of New York.”

While the archbishop is aware that women having abortions is unlikely to end he feels that it is important to inform people on these numbers and help women “understand” the conquences of their choices. “We are prepared to do everything in our power to help you and your unborn baby to make absolutely certain that you need never feel that you have no choice but an abortion,” said Archbishop Dolan.

Personally,  I would never have an abortion. This is my choice. It is made from my own personal moral and ethical beliefs but I am and always will be pro-choice. I can never tell another woman what may or may not be the right decision for them. We are each guided by individual circumstances and what may be right for me may not be right for another.

The decision to have an abortion is one that I know most women have a hard time dealing with once it is made. It is not something that you do, forget about, and then move on. That decision often haunts many women throughout their lives. So for the Archbishop to say that he wants to “help women understand the consequences of their choices” to me is demeaning, undermining, and demoralizing. How can a man help a woman understand what it feels like to terminate a life growing in her own body?

I am a Latina woman, which means I have 2 strikes against me. I am part of a group of people that have been traditionally marginalized, treated as second class citizens, and have had to fight for the very freedom that men, let me rephrase, white men have always had the privilege to enjoy. They make their own decisions of their own free will without having to justify their decisions nor have they ever had to fight for the right to simply be who they are.  So despite my personal or religious beliefs I will never advocate for anything that strips away the basic human rights of any individual.

Pro-lifers will argue that the fetus has the right to live but I’m not here to debate what is right or wrong. Valid arguments can be made for both sides. However, what I do know is that we can not allow our freedoms to be stripped away or we will find ourselves back were we where decades ago and that is in dirty back alley tenement buildings having abortions by unlicensed doctors.

Instead of trying to repeal Roe vs. Wade or guilting and shaming women into having babies that they may not want or be ready for invest more time educating and counseling these women about  how to prevent pregnancies. Make birth control pills more affordable. Emphasize the importance of using condoms not only to prevent pregnancy but to also protect from sexually transmitted infections. Educate young women who are becoming sexually active on how to communicate openly about sex with their parents, guardians, other adult family members or even guidance counselors.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these religious leaders also criticized public schools sex education programs that include condom distribution. I’m not surprised. This is part of the reason that these numbers may be so high. People think that if you don’t talk about, if you don’t educate or provide options then pregnancy won’t happen but they’re wrong.

Not talking about it doesn’t make the problem go away. You have to talk in order to understand what the driving forces behind these alarming rates are. The only way to decrease these numbers is by identifying the root cause. Once you identify the problem you can then begin to develop the best possible solutions. Until then Archbishop please STFU!

The complete Department of Health report can be found here: http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/2009sum.pdf

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