STATEN ISLAND — A newly elected Staten Island assemblyman called abortion "African-American genocide" before voting against a symbolic bill that reiterated New York's support for the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.
Assemblyman Ron Castorina Jr., in his second public statement in Albany's Assembly chambers since being elected, said during the debate that the black community has a much higher rate of abortion than the white community.
"I urge my friends and colleagues in the African-American communities to be very, very careful about this legislation because we’re talking about African-American genocide," said Castorina, who was chosen in April in an uncontested special election.
"But for Roe v. Wade, the African-American community would be 36 percent larger than it currently is today."
Castorina said he was citing several studies for his comments including a 2006 one by the Centers for Disease Control which found that 33 percent of black women have had abortions, compared to 10 percent of white.
His comments angered many members of Assembly who either walked out or tried to interject while Castorina was speaking. Many later called his comments "racist," "offensive" and "hurtful."
"All of a sudden black lives matter," Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron said later in the debate.
"Oh they love our babies, they love our women now. This is the height of hypocrisy, racist hypocrisy."
Castorina said Wednesday that, while he expected some backlash for his comments, he didn't expect "that level of decorum and disrespect for the leadership."
"This was an inconvenient truth to many of those on the left because it gets in the way of their social progressive agenda," he said.
"That's the reason why they became so out of hand and totally lacking in decorum."
He said he thought the bill being voted on was "needlessly put on the floor" and done for "political grandstanding."
Despite the outrage from some members of the Assembly, Castorina said he has received support from several groups and some of his constituents for his comments.