Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes said Monday that women who choose to undergo abortions and the physicians who perform the procedure are essentially terrorists because "the evil is the same."
The remarks came as Keyes was explaining why three months ago he said that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were a "warning" from God to "wake up" and stop "the evil" of abortion.
"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on September 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life?" Keyes said in a May 7 speech in Provo, Utah. "We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning.
"I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow. I think that's a way of Providence telling us, 'I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?' "
The speech and transcript of that talk appears on the Web site of a Keyes supporter.
Since he entered the U.S. Senate contest just over a week ago, Keyes has attacked Democratic rival Barack Obama for his support for abortion rights, saying the Democrat holds "the slaveowners' position."
Obama called it "deeply troubling" that Keyes is now evoking the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks in his anti-abortion arguments. But the Republican stood by his earlier remarks.
"What is done in the course of an abortion is as a result of some decision made on the basis of somebody else's sense of their interests, convenience, emotional situation, whatever it may be," Keyes told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Someone consciously targets innocent human life. As I often point out to folks, the evil is the same."
Placing such blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist plot that killed more than 3,000 people has drawn an uproar in the past.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, days after Sept. 11, said "the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians . . . 'You helped this happen.' " His remarks drew sharp criticism from the White House, and Falwell later publicly apologized.
Obama, a Hyde Park Democrat, said he had read the speech and criticized Keyes for drawing a "causal link" between Sept. 11 and abortion supporters.
"I think it's a deeply troubling statement," Obama said. "To suggest that somehow the slaughter of innocent people in New York and in Washington was somehow brought about as a consequence of women exercising their reproductive freedom is not the way most people here in Illinois think."
On another issue, Keyes on Monday said he supported reparations for descendants of slaves -- an apparent switch in his position.
Keyes suggested descendants of slaves should be exempt from paying federal income taxes. But in a March 27, 2002, transcript of his show "Making Sense," Keyes -- who wants to abolish the federal income tax for everyone -- suggested that reparations were an insult.
"You want to tell me that what they suffered can actually be repaired with money?" Keyes asked at the time.
Keyes, through a spokesman, said late Monday he does not support reparations if other people's money is used. "If you couldn't get the income tax abolished totally, that [exemption for slave descendants] is incremental progress," spokesman Bill Pascoe said.
Obama said Monday he did not support reparations. Instead, he said he favored "investments" that would benefit all Americans who are struggling. "Things like early childhood education, job training, college scholarships, provide opportunity to all people," Obama said. "I'm just in favor of investments of people in need and struggling."
Opposing abortion is Keyes' chief issue. He has said protecting the unborn was one of the main reasons he accepted Illinois Republicans' offer to replace GOP nominee Jack Ryan in the U.S. Senate race.
He has unleashed a steady stream of strident invective against Obama, who supports abortion rights. Keyes argues that women who claim they have rights over the fetuses in their bodies are akin to plantation owners claiming control over slaves because they are "property."