NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams said Friday he wouldn’t be mayor if his former partner hadn’t gotten an abortion when they were teenagers.
The revelation came after Adams, flanked by dozens of members of his administration on the steps of City Hall, announced new initiatives to improve abortion access in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s unraveling of Roe v. Wade.
“I was 15, and I just got home from being arrested, and [my partner] came to me. She said, ‘Eric, I'm pregnant, and look at your life,'" recalled the mayor, who has said his arrest and beating at the hands of police inspired him to later spend 22 years as an NYPD cop.
Adams said his gut reaction was to “keep the baby,” but his partner urged him to reflect on the quality of life they could provide.
“‘Eric, you’re arrested, you’re not going to school. What future is this baby going to have?’” the mayor recalled her saying.
Ultimately she made the “empowered” decision “that was smart for both of us,” he said.
Later, when asked during an appearance on 1010 WINS whether he thinks he’d be mayor today if the child was born, Adams said: “No, I don’t.”
“My life would have been different,” he said an hour later on CNN.
Outside City Hall, Adams announced a slate of plans to expand access to medication abortion at city sexual health clinics and grow the number of medical professionals who perform the procedure within the public hospital system.
The city will also provide transportation, food and housing options for out-of-staters who come to New York for the procedure from states where it is outlawed, city Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said at Friday’s news conference.
“After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their parents,” Adams said. “The far right, enabled by this court, has declared war on the American people, war on public safety, and our pursuit of happiness.”
The revocation of Roe v. Wade — which city and state officials had anticipated since POLITICO first reported the initial draft majority opinion in May — has prompted New York politicians to take widespread action to improve abortion access. They passed a law that shields abortion providers and people who travel to New York seeking legal abortions from extradition and subpoenas issued by states that have outlawed the procedure. Lawmakers also set up abortion-access funds.
Both the city and state are rolling out public service announcements, hotlines and other resources to connect those seeking an abortion to trusted providers, which will combat a longstanding issue about pregnant people being unknowingly directed to anti-abortion clinics.
The state Legislature is expected to return as early as next week for a special session to address SCOTUS’ ruling Thursday overturning a strict New York gun law. That brief return to the statehouse could provide lawmakers another chance to pass a stalled equal rights amendment to the state’s Constitution that would add pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes to a list of classes protected from discrimination.
Despite the growing access and funding for abortions, Adams dismissed the suggestion that New Yorkers and those who come to the state are safe in a post-Roe America. He called on Congress to codify abortion into law.
“If we pass something in the state, we are leaving our sisters behind in other states. This is a national problem, and it’s time for national leadership to step up and solve this problem,” Adams said. “What does it say to my auntie in Alabama? What does it say to my family members in Florida? I am not going to say, ‘We should only have the right in New York.’ We should have the right in our country.”
A handful of female deputy mayors and an agency head opened the news conference, speaking about their experiences with motherhood and abortion, some of whom tearfully detailed their choices now that Roe was overturned.
The final woman to speak, Adams’ closest confidante, Chaplain Ingrid Lewis-Martin, brought the perspective of someone who is deeply religious and focused her comments narrowly on women who need abortions after rape.
As the mayor and other officials spoke, a heckler screamed from the sidelines, calling Adams “a hypocrite” and repeatedly yelling “save the children” and “get over it.”
Raul Rivera, a 52-year-old taxi driver, said he comes to City Hall “all the time… not to disrupt, but if they’re not going to let me participate, then I will disrupt.”
He said he is a registered Democrat, but he called the moderate Democratic mayor “the last Democrat I vote for,” noting he now supports Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani.
Rivera claimed it was hypocritical for city officials to support individual choice in abortions but not vaccinations against Covid-19, though he later said he approved of the court’s ruling and found it hard to support abortion rights, particularly after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Nine out of 10 abortions happen before 12 weeks in many high-income countries, and the proportion of abortions performed by nine weeks has grown in the past decade, according to research published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.
The lone protester at City Hall Park, Rivera clashed with officers and other onlookers, some of whom openly referred to him as crazy. His voice, which at times drowned out the voices of female city officials, served as a metaphor for the moment, Adams said.
“Hundreds of us are on the steps. You have one idiot out there, and you may think this is what Americans are feeling,” Adams said. “That’s just noise. And notice it’s not a woman.”