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Tale of two cities

The mayor of New York rejects federal funding over abortion restrictions, while the NYPD helps conduct a funeral for an abandoned baby

Tale of two cities

Bill de Blasio (Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa USA/AP)

Over the weekend, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio held a big press conference in a Manhattan hospital to announce the city would reject $1.3 million in federal family planning funds because of the Trump administration’s conditions—including a prohibition on abortion referrals. Last week the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld those conditions, which de Blasio (who, incidentally, is running for president) called a “war on reproductive freedom.” The de Blasio administration plans in its budget this year to make New York the first U.S. city to directly fund abortions

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn over the weekend, the New York Police Department helped conduct a funeral for a premature baby whose body was discovered in a bag near a Brooklyn school. (It’s unclear whether the baby, about 20 weeks old by gestational age, died by miscarriage or another cause.) A local pregnancy center arranged for the funeral at a Catholic church, and six city police officers served as pallbearers while an NYPD bagpiper played. The baby was buried in a special section of a Staten Island graveyard for stillborn or abandoned babies. 

Life Center of New York, the pregnancy center, named the baby Monica, based on Augustine’s mother Monica’s statement from her deathbed: “You will remember me at the Lord’s altar, wherever you be.” I think these two events show what a complex place New York City is: a city where abortions post-20 weeks are legal but also where city officers help hold funerals for 20-week babies. 

Handout

Caitlin Flanagan (Handout)

Worth your time:

If you haven’t read it yet, Caitlin Flanagan’s convicting essay on the detention camps at the border is a must. There aren’t many writers like her in journalism.

This week I learned:

The new production of the West End mainstay Les Misérables will not include the famous rotating stage, sparking outrage among the musical’s devotees. Instead the production will rely on digital projections to show changing scenery.

The original production designer for Les Miz had some thoughts that he shared with The New York Times: “Shakespeare is reinvented all the time, and people do amazing things with it, but if you’re going to reinvent it, reinvent it. Really have a go at things.” He called the new production a “half-take.”

A court case you might not know about:

The feds have accused a Long Islander of a $20 million Ponzi scheme. There seem to be a lot of Ponzi schemes in Long Island courts right now: Another man recently pleaded guilty to a $12 million scheme that took in many elderly clients.

Culture I am consuming:

Game of Kings: A Year Among the Oddballs and Geniuses Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team by Michael Weinreb, who shows that sportswriters really are the best at keeping a story lively and moving. (This book was originally titled The Kings of New York, but perhaps it ran into copyright problems.) I used this book as background research in preparation for an interview with one of its subjects, who was a top chess player as a teenager in New York and has gone on to become a grandmaster.

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org