NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Archbishop Timothy Dolan is calling for efforts to make abortions in New York City "rare."
Dolan gathered with other religious leaders on Thursday to draw attention to the city's high abortion rate. The city health department last month released statistics that showed 39 percent of pregnancies ended with induced termination in 2009.
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"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," said Archbishop Dolan.
While the numbers have declined in the last decade, the religious leaders said they are still too high.
In 2009, there were 225,667 pregnancies in the City with 126,774 resulting in live births and 87,273 resulting in abortions. In addition to those abortion numbers, there were 11,620 spontaneous terminations.
Forty-six percent of all pregnancies in the Bronx result in abortions—the highest among the five boroughs, according to the report.
Blacks had the highest number of abortions with 40,798 with Hispanics having the second highest at 28,364, according to the report.
In response, the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports alternatives to abortion, pledged that it will spend $1 million in 2011 to address the City's abortion rate—nearly double the national average of 23 percent.
"Like it or not, the legality of abortion is a settled question in New York for the time being," said Greg Pfundstein, executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation. "That doesn't mean we have to accept the fact that in parts of the city nearly half of all pregnancies end in abortion."
Dolan said the practice is unlikely to end but that it was important 'to tell people what is happening' and help pregnant women come to terms with 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," Archbishop Dolan said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the religious leaders also criticized public schools sex education programs that include condom distribution.
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