Bill Bennett, radio host and veteran of multiple Republican administrations, caused quite a stir when he suggested last week that crime rates would go down if all the black babies were aborted. Bennett’s remarks ignited a thunderstorm of angry protest that might best be described, ironically enough, as a virtual lynching. And a well-deserved one, too.
I’ve long suspected Bennett of being a pro-life sympathizer, alongside his many other personal failings (indeed, one could probably write a book about all of the virtues of which Bennett is sorely lacking), but I’m afraid it’s much worse than that. A careful parsing of Bennett’s fateful words exposes him as nothing less than an insidious anti-choice activist of the first order. My line of reasoning is as follows: Crimes are, by definition, committed by human beings. Furthermore, based on U.S. Department of Justice statistics dating back to at least the 1970s, we know that black Americans commit crime at higher rates than do members of other demographic category. Therefore the implications of Bennett’s remarks are both chilling and inescapable: The net result of an abortion is the loss of a human life. Lest there be any doubt, consider Bennett’s exact words: “If we aborted every black baby…”. Not “every black fetus,” mind you, nor “if we terminated every black woman’s pregnancy.” No, he clearly used the “b” word, thus inadvertently revealing his true, anti-choice agenda.
As has long been considered settled law, the right to choose to have an abortion is constitutionally guaranteed to every woman. Abortion isn’t a question of human life because it’s never been legally established that an unborn fetus is a human life. Oh sure, those unborn fetuses look pretty human with their little hands and their little feet and their cute little faces. They share our DNA. too, along with an audible heartbeat, a tendency to kick and sometimes suck their thumbs, and the ability to feel pain. Some experts even believe that the unborn enjoy listening to classical music. But that doesn’t make the fetus a human being. If it did that would make every abortion…well, something other than the safe and legal medical procedure designed to resolve pregnancy other than through live birth, or M.P.D.T.R.P.O.T.T.L.B., we all know it to be.
Bill Bennett’s craven attempt to link abortion rights with hypothetical, subsequent crime rates is the first step down a slippery slope of equating women’s choice with subsequent social trends among the human population, as if some law of unintended consequences causally linked such unrelated phenomena. It’s this sort of twisted logic that prompted a commentator on FOX News (where else?) to suggest recently that the ten million black pregnancies terminated since Roe v. Wade became law might have translated into ten million additional black voters today. Who knows how many women, following this line of reasoning, might find themselves pondering how their lives might be different today had they made different choices with regard to past pregnancies? Even a former secretary of Education should be capable of seeing the erosive effect such rampant speculation could have on every woman’s fundamental right to choose.
Shame on you, Mr. Bennett, and on all of your defenders, for your deplorable suggestion that a woman’s right to choose is even indirectly related to U.S. crime rates. Because, to paraphrase your undoubtedly kindred spirits at the National Rifle Association, fetuses don’t commit crimes. People do.
–Ned Rice is a staff writer on the new and improved CBS talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Rice is also an NRO contributor.