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Under scrutiny, Herman Cain clarifies pro-life position
By Michelle Bauman
Herman Cain speaking at a Republican Party fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Herman Cain speaking at a Republican Party fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

.- In recent interviews with the media, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has defined where he stands on abortion, including in cases of rape and medical emergencies.

In an Oct. 20 CNN interview with Piers Morgan, Cain was asked if what he would do if a family member was raped and if he would want that family member to raise the child, Cain said it is "not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision."

Cain reacted to the interview in an Oct. 21 statement.

"My answer was focused on the role of the President.  The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone.  That was the point I was trying to convey.

"I am 100% pro-life, period."

Cain indicated in both the CNN interview and an Oct. 16 appearance on Meet the Press that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. In situations where the mother’s life is at risk, he said he would leave the decision up to the family.

“I do not agree with abortion under any circumstances,” Cain told Meet the Press host David Gregory.

“Not for rape and incest,” he added, “because if you look at rape and incest, the percentage of those instances is so miniscule that there are other options.”

Asked about the possibility of an exception when the life of the mother is in danger, Cain responded, “If it’s the life of the mother, that family’s going to have to make that decision.”

When pressed further about whether he was condoning abortion in such cases, Cain simply repeated, “That family is going to have to make that decision.”

As a businessman with no previous political experience, Cain’s positions on key issues have been less well-known than those of the other GOP candidates. He has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks as he has risen in national polls.

Cain has described himself as pro-life, and at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 7, he told his audience, “I believe in life from conception, period. No exceptions.”

However, his commitment to life was called into question by some pro-life advocates when he chose not to sign the Susan B. Anthony List pledge.

The pledge, offered to each major GOP presidential candidate, included four specific measures to fight abortion.

These measures included: nominating only federal judges who are dedicated to “applying the original meaning of the Constitution;” selecting “only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions;” working to pass legislation to “permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion;” and committing to “advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

Cain issued a statement over the summer explaining that while he agreed with the first three parts of the pledge, he chose not to sign it because he objected to the last component.

“I support right-to-life issues unequivocally and I adamantly support the first three aspects of the Susan B. Anthony pledge involving appointing pro-life judges, choosing pro-life cabinet members, and ending taxpayer-funded abortions,” he said. 

“However, the fourth requirement demands that I ‘advance’ the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” he explained. “As president, I would sign it, but Congress must advance the legislation.”

“I have been a consistent and unwavering champion of pro-life issues,” Cain added. “In no way does this singular instance of clarification denote an abandonment of the pro-life movement, but instead, is a testament to my respect for the balance of power and the role of the presidency.”

Republican candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum all signed the pro-life pledge.

Mitt Romney joined Cain in refusing to sign the pledge. Romney said that he could not sign the “well-meaning pledge” because it is “overly broad and would have unintended consequences.”

Romney also agreed with three out of the four components of the pledge. However, he opposed the provision asking for a commitment to select “pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions.”


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