In this #asiaforlife podcast, Joe shares about some experiences and insights from his trip to New York City last week. The discussion includes:
—A man who jumped in front of a train while holding his daughter
—A governor who loudly celebrated the world’s most radical abortion law
—The incredibly urgent need for fathers in places like New York City
This episode isn’t about Asia, but it is about the international pro-life movement. While any big metropolis has to deal with the abortion problem, New York is leading the way with their Reproductive Health Act. And the church has a responsibility to respond to this crisis by “turning the hearts of fathers to their children”.
I was in New York City last week. I’d passed through New York City before on layovers, but this was really my first proper trip to New York City. I was in Chinatown, the Bronx, and some nice, less touristy parts.
This trip was basically an Asia for Life “business trip”, to get to know some organizations based there. But today I want to talk on a more personal level about some of my own experiences, and the “culture of death” in New York City.
I’ll start by saying that New York City is so much different from everywhere else I’ve ever been. I grew up in America, and I’ve seen a lot of America. But in New York City, I felt like I was visiting a foreign country. And that’s not just because everybody speaks different languages. (I hardly needed to use English, because I talked to so many people who spoke Cantonese, Mandarin, or Spanish.)
But there’s something else. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about the city that makes it feel very different from the rest of the country.
A life miraculously spared, and some Good Samaritans
Anyway, on the bus ride to New York, I had a very strange, dark feeling about where I was going. I prayed for New York City, and especially for the Bronx, where I was staying. I later read about this incident, which had happened at the same time I was praying, shortly before 8:00am on Monday morning.
This summary of the story is from the Washington Post:
The man, a 45-year-old Bronx resident named Fernando Balbuena-Flores, died on the scene Monday morning, according to New York police. But the girl, who has not been named, went to a Bronx medical center with only minor injuries and was released to her mother in stable condition.
[A bystander named Ivy had] seen the wheels of the southbound No. 4 train — already slowing to a stop, she said — roll over Balbuena-Flores’s head. People beside Ivy wailed and covered their faces.
But the girl apparently fit beneath the wheels, she said.
So then, there were two men—Antonio Love, and another unnamed man—who helped to get the 5-year old girl out from under the train. They got the girl out safely, but also got injured in the process.
Speaking later at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx — where the two good Samaritans went with minor injuries, according to the New York Fire Department — Love questioned many onlookers’ decisions that morning to whip out cellphones rather than pitch in.
“It was just panicking,” he said. “Like, regular New Yorkers, pulling out their phones. Really?”
Someone stole his bag as he helped the girl to safety, he said.
Antonio Love was quoted by the New York Times:
“The only thing she was saying was ‘Papa, my papa.’”
There are so many things about this story that are tragic. But the most obvious one is that a man chose to end his own life, and the life of his daughter. I’m going to assume this father had mental health issues. So, I’m not condemning him. But what he did was horrible.
The Bronx needs more dads and less abortion
The Bronx has a bad reputation. They have more than their fair share of violence and murder and suicide. And I think it goes without saying that the Bronx needs fathers who are engaged in helping their communities. If dads in the Bronx were responsible husbands and fathers, that would probably solve most of the crime there. Because good fathers don’t tolerate anybody harming or endangering their kids.
Having decent families in your neighborhood means you don’t have to be scared to walk outside at night. But that’s not how it is in the Bronx, or in most of New York City.
There are so many ways that simply having decent dads around can prevent crime and poverty. You’d think this would be a national priority in a place like New York City. But what’s the priority of the government of New York? More access to abortion.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Passionately Supports Unrestricted Abortion
You’ve probably heard the story already. A few months ago, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, made big news headlines when he ordered that the One World Trade Center be lit pink, to celebrate New York’s new abortion law. New York already had a very liberal abortion law, but they wanted to make it even broader, and stronger, so that abortion would always remain legal, for any reason, during the entire pregnancy. The most disturbing part of the law was that it protects doctors who finish an abortion after birth, if the baby is born alive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement:
“I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Governor Cuomo is the sort of person who supports abortion until birth, and celebrates it as publicly as possible. He could have been a role model to the many people who suffer from violence and fear in New York. So many people in New York City don’t even know who their fathers are! That causes a lot of problems, not only for families and communities, but for the government as well. But Governor Cuomo is promoting policies that undermine the important role of parents.
As an aside…by pushing abortion, he’s actually helping abusers, in a city that already has a huge problem with human trafficking and sexual abuse. Places like Planned Parenthood abortion clinics don’t like to report on rapists or human traffickers. They would prefer to help them, and keep things quiet, and let them continue to abuse women and children.
In general, abortion is an easy way out for a lot of men, and the more accessible it is, the easier it is to protect their own worst instincts, at the expense of women and children.
I’m not saying that Governor Cuomo wants more human trafficking, or even that he’s insincere in his reasons for pushing the most radical abortion legislation in the nation. I’m not saying that he’s a bad husband or father. I honestly don’t know much about his family life.
But he is fanatical about the right to abortion. The law he signed this year protects any abortion, for any reason, using any method, at any time, up to and including birth. It’s monstrous. If he really cared about the welfare of families in New York, he could use his position to encourage men to be good fathers, and try to lead by example. But his highest priority is to tell families that they have an absolutely fundamental “human right” to abortion.
And I will actually add one more thing about Cuomo’s family life, that I just read about. During my last day in New York, on September 25, Governor Cuomo announced his separation from his domestic partner, Sandra Lee. They’d been together for 14 years, and even though they weren’t married, she was considered the de facto “First Lady of New York”.
His situation, his personal example, and his obsession with abortion are just very sad for the people of New York. I’m not telling anyone they can’t vote for him. But on a human level, there’s no way to defend his attitude or his stance on abortion.
Dads, Churches, and Missionaries in New York City
In case you can’t tell by now, I don’t have a good impression of New York, especially New York City. I’ve never been anywhere in America or the world where I felt so nervous to walk downtown. Even in the main tourist area on 5th Avenue, I felt like I might get mugged at any moment.
In a place with as many problems as New York City, there have to be people who are willing to do good, to change things—even if it’s not popular, and even if they suffer for it. It’s like that guy who got the little girl off the train tracks—while he was trying to save her life, someone stole his bag. And people all around him were taking videos on their cell phones.
No matter what you do, if you try to do good in a place like New York City, you’ll probably have a tough time.
But there are people who are willing to make sacrifices. And I met some of them while I was there. Just one example is a pro-life pregnancy resource center I visited. They provide counseling, resources, free medical care, and financial support for women who need help, during and after pregnancy. And there are interns there from other countries. They see the crisis of abortion in New York City, and they are coming from Europe and elsewhere. It’s really beautiful.
In New York City, there’s a lot of kids asking “Where’s my papa?” This story of the father trying to kill his 5-year old daughter is not common in New York City. There’s not a lot of men who are so mentally ill that they think the best thing they can do for their daughter in kindergarten is to kill her.
But a lot of fathers try to get rid of their children before they’re born, and New York City has the highest abortion rate in America. I think the crisis of abortion is a crisis of fatherhood. And it’s up to local communities—especially churches and Christian families—to respond to that urgent need, and to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children.