Public Officials Spin Personal Abortion Stories

In recent weeks, as the abortion issue took center stage in the nation’s political discourse, three prominent government officials in New York disclosed their personal involvement in abortion.

In early May, after the Supreme Court’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was leaked to the media, New York Attorney General Letitia James spoke at a New York City rally about her abortion experience. According to the Attorney General, she became pregnant soon after being elected to the New York City Council. She said: “‘I was just elected and I was faced with the decision of whether to have an abortion or not, and I chose to have an abortion. I walked proudly into Planned Parenthood. And I make no apologies to anyone, to no one… It’s our right under the law.’”

On June 21, 2022, New York Health Commissioner Mary Bassett published an op-ed at Elle.com entitled “Without My Abortion, I Would Not Be New York’s Health Commissioner.” In the op-ed, Commissioner Bassett wrote that when she became pregnant as a medical student in 1979, she chose abortion. Commissioner Bassett noted that the decision to have an abortion “was not a difficult decision,” and stated that she has “barely looked back” since having her abortion. The Commissioner added: “Had it not been for the abortion I received before I began my internship, I would not be New York’s Health Commissioner today. More importantly, I would not be the committed mother that I have been able to be to my two adult daughters for over 34 years.”

On June 24, 2022, at a rally to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke publicly about his experience with abortion. According to the New York Post, Mayor Adams said that he had conceived a child during his teen years. Mayor Adams indicated that his then-girlfriend said, “‘Eric, you’re arrested, you’re not going to school, what future is this baby going to have?’” While Mayor Adams said that he initially wanted to keep the baby, his girlfriend chose abortion, which—in the Mayor’s eyes—was “‘the decision that was smart for both of us.’” Later that day, the Mayor added that he did not think he would have become mayor of New York City if his then-girlfriend had not chosen to abort their child.

The abortion disclosures made by these three government officials have one element in common: They all present abortion as a positive good. Attorney General James “walked proudly into Planned Parenthood” and made “no apologies” for her abortion, Commissioner Bassett described her abortion as a key to her later success as a physician and as a parent, and Mayor Adams referred to his girlfriend’s abortion as “the decision that was smart for both of us.” This perspective on abortion is wildly skewed. Even if Commissioner Bassett and Mayor Adams are correct in believing that abortion helped lead to their career successes, the question must be asked: Was it worth it? To put the question another way: How can your career—or anyone’s career—possibly be more important than the life of a person?