In defending his controversial proposal to ban the sale of all sugary drinks over 16 ounces, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg boasted that, on average, New Yorkers outlive other Americans by three years. But that is only if they make it out of the womb. At present, 41% of all New York City babies are killed before birth.
To be sure, obesity is a massive problem in America (no pun intended), with very serious health complications for individuals and very real economic implications for the nation. In no way do I minimize the problem of obesity. But Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal is wrongheaded and, worse still, tragically hypocritical.
On the Today show, Matt Lauer needled the mayor about supporting Donut Day while calling for a ban on large sugary drinks, to which Bloomberg responded, “One donut’s not going to hurt you. In moderation, most things are OK.”
But what if people eat more than one donut? Or what if the one donut they choose to eat is of especially high caloric content, not to mention extra sugary?
Or what if a skinny person wants to eat three donuts, along with a 44 ounce Big Gulp? Should that be allowed? Or what if a severely obese person wants to eat just one donut, along with a 16 ounce Coke? Is that OK? Maybe people should be weighed before placing their order?
Perhaps a limit should be put on how many slices of pizza a person can eat in one sitting (in proportion, of course, to their BMI, body mass index)? Or maybe there should be a ceiling on how many pieces of apple pie someone can consume after a meal, or on how many bites of a deli sandwich he or she is allowed to ingest before having to put the rest in a to-go box? (If you’ve ever eaten at a famous NY deli, like the Carnegie Deli, you know that the size of drink you order is the least of your caloric concerns.)
What about ice cream parlors? How many scoops should they be allowed to serve per customer? And should chocolate-dipped sugar cones be banned altogether? And what about the ubiquitous street-corner vendors? Should they be permitted to sell regular-size candy bars but not king-sized? And how many of those candy-bars should they be allowed to sell per customer? Going back to the mayor’s proposal, who would actually enforce these regulations?
On a more serious note, what about the consumption of alcohol in city bars? Since there is a definite correlation between drinking and cirrhosis of the liver, should there be a limit on the kind of alcoholic drinks people are allowed to order or the amount of drinks they are allowed to consume?
And what about sexual health risks? Bloomberg is a champion of “gay rights,” apparently ignoring the numerous health risks for men who have sex with men (MSM). And when he boasts about the healthiness of New Yorkers, has he forgotten about a 2006 CDC study that reported that, “Over the past several years, increases in syphilis among MSM have been reported in various cities and areas, including Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Southern California, Miami, and New York City.” Yes, that very same New York.
All this, however, is trivial when compared to the staggering abortion rates in New York City, which have been as high as 46% in 1998 (meaning, virtually half of all babies conceived) and most recently were reported at 41%, including the following breakdown: “Specifically non-Hispanic Blacks have a 59.8% abortion rate. Hispanics have a 41.3% abortion rate. Asians have a 22.7% abortion rate. And non-Hispanic Whites have a 20.4% abortion rate.”
As New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan remarked, “If 41% of New York babies are aborted, with the percentage even higher in the Bronx and among our African-American babies in the world, it is downright chilling.”
Also downright chilling is the fact that earlier this year, Planned Parenthood honored Bloomberg with a lifetime achievement award, coinciding with his $250,000 donation to their organization after “it initially lost funding from the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity.” This is the same Bloomberg who “was sued in 1997 by a sales executive who claimed that after she became pregnant, Mr. Bloomberg urged her to have an abortion, telling her, ‘Kill it!’ and saying sarcastically, ‘Great! Number 16,’ apparently referring to the number of pregnant women at the company. Mr. Bloomberg adamantly denied any wrongdoing and settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount.”
The suit was actually brought against Bloomberg L.P. by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which charged that female employees at the company “were demoted and had their pay cut after they disclosed that they were pregnant.” Whether the charges were true, Bloomberg’s enthusiastic support of abortion is not in question.
I wonder what the average lifespan of New Yorkers would be if the multiplied tens of thousands of babies snuffed out in the womb were factored in as living to “zero” years? And this zealously pro-abortion mayor wants to ban Slurpees and Big Gulps?
To paraphrase the thoughts of one of my radio show callers, in Mayor Bloomberg’s world, the feminists who say, “Keep your hands off our ovaries” are commendable while the New Yorkers who say, “Keep your hands off our diets” are contemptible. Put another way, Bloomberg is “pro-choice” when it comes to a mother aborting a tiny baby in her womb and “no-choice” when it comes to her putting a big Slurpee in her stomach.
God help the mayor.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.