Bennett Under Fire for Remark on Crime and Black Abortions By Brian Faler Special to The Washington Post Friday, September 30, 2005; A05 Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders denounced conservative commentator William J. Bennett yesterday for suggesting on his syndicated radio show that aborting black children would reduce the U.S. crime rate. The former U.S. education secretary-turned-talk show host said Wednesday that "if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett quickly added that such an idea would be "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do." But, he said, "your crime rate would go down." Bennett's comments, flagged by the liberal news media watchdog group Media Matters for America, were quickly condemned by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who issued a statement demanding that Bennett apologize. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) circulated a letter, signed by 10 of his colleagues, demanding that the Salem Radio Network suspend Bennett's show. Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, demanded that the show be canceled. "Bennett's statement is outrageous. As a former secretary of education, he should know better," Henderson said. "His program should be pulled from the air." A spokeswoman for Salem Radio Network did not return three calls requesting comment. Bennett, education secretary under then-President Ronald Reagan and director of drug policy during George H.W. Bush's administration has written a number of books stressing the importance of traditional values, including the 1993 bestseller "The Book of Virtues." In 2003, he admitted he was a heavy gambler after news reports that he had lost millions of dollars in casinos. Bennett's comments came Wednesday, during a discussion on his talk show "Morning in America." A caller had suggested that Social Security would be better funded if abortion had not been legalized in 1973 because the nation would have more workers paying into the system. Bennett said "maybe," before referring to a book he said argued that the legalization of abortion is one of the reasons the crime rate has declined in recent decades. Bennett said he did not agree with that thesis. "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," Bennett said, according to an audio clip posted on Media Matters for America's Web site. "That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, you know, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1174353 U.S. News | National News Get the latest breaking news across the U.S. on ABCNews.com abcnews.go.com ABC News White House criticizes Bennett remarks on blacks Reuters Sep 30, 2005 â€” By Caren Bohan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday criticized as "not appropriate" a comment from former Education Secretary William Bennett that aborting black babies would reduce the U.S. crime rate. Bennett, a conservative radio commentator, stirred outrage for saying on his talk show on Wednesday: "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down." "That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he said on his call-in program "Morning in America." Asked for President George W. Bush's reaction to the remarks, spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The president believes the comments were not appropriate." Bennett has not served in Bush's Cabinet, but has held various senior roles in the administrations of Bush's father and President Ronald Reagan. He is a former education secretary and head of U.S. drug policy. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat of New Jersey, said Bush's response was not forceful enough. "Not appropriate is wearing white shoes after Labor Day (the last U.S. summer holiday). These comments were reprehensible and racist," Lautenberg said. Lautenberg said he would be introducing a resolution in the Senate condemning Bennett's comments. Bennett, author of a book on morality called "The Book of Virtues," faced controversy two years ago when it was revealed that he lost millions because of a gambling habit. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Bennett's comments were "hateful, inflammatory" and asked whether they represented the values of the Republican party. Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, a former campaign adviser to Bush, has been trying to reach out to African Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The widely criticized federal response to Hurricane Katrina dealt a setback to that effort. Many poor, black residents appeared to bear the brunt of the suffering in flooded New Orleans because they did not have the means to evacuate. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050930-120534-4865r_page2.htm Around the Nation CHICAGO — The political strategist who helped engineer former Gov. George Ryan’s rise to power took the witness stand yesterday and told a jury how Mr. Ryan doled out state contracts, leases and favors to the well-connected. washingtontimes.com ARKANSAS Free abortions given to hurricane evacuees LITTLE ROCK -- A doctor has offered to perform free abortions on hurricane evacuees, saying it may be too dangerous for them to wait until they return home. Despite protests from abortion opponents, Little Rock Family Planning Services clinic director Dr. Jerry Edwards said he already has performed six free abortions. The clinic usually charges between $525 and $600 for a first-trimester abortion. "If we didn't provide it now, they would get it later -- a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother's health," Dr. Edwards told KTHV-TV in Little Rock.