Maybe Herman Cain is trying too hard to be likable. He doesn’t need to enter attack mode or anything, but it would help if he didn’t pander to lefty media hosts, either. I have to assume that’s what this is — unless Cain really doesn’t think it’s the government’s business to ban abortion?
Last night, Cain told Piers Morgan that “life begins at conception” and said he opposes abortion “in all cases.” But when Morgan pressed him with typical questions about whether Cain would want his daughter or granddaughter to have a child conceived by rape or incest, Cain dodged. First, he told Morgan he was confusing two separate matters (apples and oranges, perhaps?). But, then, he said this, apparently still in reference to what he thinks about cases involving rape:
No, it comes down to is, it’s not the government’s role — or anybody else’s role — to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.
This isn’t the first time Cain has seemed to contradict himself on the abortion issue. In an interview with John Stossel earlier this month, Cain circled around and around Stossel’s frank questions, defaulting to stock phrases like “I’m pro-life” and “life begins at conception” — but also “that’s her choice.” When Stossel asked him if abortion should be legal, though, he flat-out said “no.” That suggests that, in general at least, he does think it’s the government’s role to “make that decision.”
And in an interview with Meet the Press’ David Gregory, Cain said he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest because “the percentage of those instances is so minuscule that there are other options.” But “if it’s the life of the mother, that family is going to have to make that decision.”
If you put all the pieces together, at best it seems Cain believes abortion is wrong “in all cases,” should be illegal in most cases and should be a choice in some cases.
But it’s also possible he meant what he said to Piers Morgan, when he used pretty sweeping language to supposedly address exceptional cases: “It’s not the government’s role — or anybody else’s role — to make that decision.” It seems possible he’s bought into the idea that a complete government ban on abortion would somehow be an encroachment on individual freedom, rather than the most fundamental protection of it possible. Without life, what is liberty?
Yet, in 2003, he said he would support a Human Life Amendment, which would ultimately completely ban abortion. And, again, he told Stossel he thinks abortion should be illegal.
Quite confusing — and we can’t turn to his executive or legislative record to see what his actions on the issue have said. Whether his circumlocution should disqualify him with strictly pro-life voters is a matter for debate, but it would certainly help if Cain would clarify this by stating his position unequivocally.
For example (if this is his position), he could simply say: “I think abortion should be illegal and whether a person has a right to life is never another person’s choice to make.”
Or (if this is his position), he could say: “I think abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.”
Or (if this is his position), he could say: “I think abortion should be legal, but, culturally speaking, will work to oppose it because I personally believe it is wrong.”
Whatever it is, Mr. Cain, just spit it out.