Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last week, Senator Dick Durbin made comments that should have won him the “Most Racially Insensitive Remarks of the Year Award.” His statements were made in a committee markup. An audio recording of the heated exchange between Senator Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Brownback (R-KS) revealed the unfortunate bias of the Senator from Illinois. Senator Durbin justified the fact that 41% of pregnancies in DC are terminated by abortion by essentially saying, “It’s a black thing!” His exact words are listed below:

Durbin: In terms of safe, legal and rare, to the Senator from Kansas, I will tell you two things. First, it is a fact that a disproportionately large number of African Americans seek abortion in America, not just in the District of Columbia, but all across the nation.

Brownback: 41 percent?

Durbin: No, but it’s also a fact that a disproportionately large number of African Americans live in the District of Columbia.

Brownback: 41 percent?

Durbin: I’m telling you, look at the numbers.

Brownback: I’m telling -- I’m just asking you, aren't there enough [abortions] here?

Durbin: Look at the numbers, and you will find this to be true.

Brownback: This -- this is not high enough?

The problem with Durbin’s flippant, patronizing remarks were that they were classic statements of a bureaucrat that does not care about the welfare of people in the District of Columbia.

Many concerned residents of DC believe that there is a culture of death in the city. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the rate of abortion in DC is twice the national average. In addition, DC also has the highest HIV/ AIDS rate in the nation. Although the city has shaken its 80s and 90s moniker of “Murder Capital of the World,” there still needs to be special care given to the preservation of all human life – especially black life in DC. As I listened to Senator Durbin’s remarks, I could not help but think that if there were more white or Hispanic fetuses aborted, he would have been more alarmed. Like other kinds of black-on-black crimes, there seemed to be no remorse on the side of the political power structure.

Brownback said that before the federal ban against funding abortions was in place, DC shifted over $1 million from an AIDS fund to an abortion fund. Brownback’s amendment to preserve the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions in DC failed in committee, marking a low in the concern for life among those given oversight to the District’s affairs.


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.