Congressman Calls for Suspension of Talk Show Host over 'Black Baby' Abortion Comment

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes a transcript of remarks made during Bill Bennett's show.)

( - A Michigan congressman is calling for the immediate suspension of a conservative talk show host for insinuating that crime could be reduced by aborting "every black baby" in America.

In a letter to Greg Anderson, president of the Salem Radio Network, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) Thursday called Bill Bennett's statement "insulting," saying that it "has no place on the nation's public air waves." Bennett served as secretary of education under the Reagan administration and drug czar for former President George H.W. Bush.

"We were shocked and outraged to learn that, on your radio network today, Bill Bennett stated on his radio program, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, '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,'" Conyers wrote.

"This statement was made in response to a caller's suggestion linking abortions to the solvency of the Social Security program," the congressman added.

The following is a transcript of the conversation that included the aforementioned remarks, which were made on Wednesday's broadcast of Bennett's show:

CALLER: I noticed the national media, you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue, or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I've read articles in recent months here, that the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade, the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years, could fund Social Security as we know it today. And the media just doesn't - never touches this at all.

BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?

CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think as - abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.

CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both - you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well -

CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. 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 impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

In his letter, Conyers said while he supports the First Amendment right to free speech, "we simply cannot countenance statements and shows that are replete with racism, stereotyping, and profiling." He added that he found it "difficult" to understand "how an individual granted a show on your network could utter such a statement in 21st century America."

"The fact that Mr. Bennett later acknowledged that such abortions would be 'morally reprehensible,' but added again that if it was done 'the crime rate would go down,' is equally outrageous," said Conyers.

Conyers called for a meeting with Salem Radio Network executives "to understand how you could have permitted an individual with such views to broadcast such a program on your network, and learn what you intend to do to respond to this problem."

He concluded by threatening to contact the network's sponsors "to convey our views" and requested a list of all sponsors the network had within the last year.

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