The Corner

Adoptions and Politicians

Ramesh, you’re right. It’s nonsense for any politician to claim credit for a complex social change like a decrease in abortion or an increase in adoption. But there’s nothing inherently offensive about attempting to claim that credit — after all, politicians often are blamed for negative changes in their polities over which they have no control either. And there is one way in which it is probably very slightly acceptable — very, very slightly, though — for Rudy Giuliani to make such a claim. And that has to do with the atmospheric change in New York City under his tenure. The alteration of the city from the crime drop and from welfare reform was so profound that it is difficult quite to capture the effect. It was felt everywhere over time, and it wouldn’t be too sentimental to describe it as a restoration of normal patterns of life that had been disrupted over decades. To the extent that the disruption helped engender a spirit of hopelessness in many quarters — and a corresponding inability to imagine that there was a future that would be any better or different from the present — it certainly contributed to behaviors of hopelessness and an inability to imagine a future. That is, I think we’d all agree, one of the spiritual causes of abortion. The end of the disruption may have had some small effect on contributing to a new sense of possibility in New York City, and thereby played some part, albeit a very small one, in changing the circumstances of abortion and adoption.

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