Cain clarifies again: Abortion shouldn’t be legal, but some families might decide to break the law anyway

posted at 5:10 pm on October 21, 2011 by Allahpundit

A better answer than yesterday’s spin attempt but Mediaite is right that it still doesn’t jibe with what he said to Piers Morgan. Then:

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…

The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to a social decision that they need to make.

Now:

Look, abortion should not be legal. That is clear. But if that family makes the decision to break the law, that’s that family’s decision. That’s all I’m trying to say.

Big difference between (a) the government shouldn’t tell you what to do about “sensitive” social decisions and (b) the government should tell you what to do by criminalizing one of your options. In fact, per Christian Heinze at the The Hill and Philip Klein at the Examiner, even in today’s answer there’s an element of choice insofar as Cain suggests that a pregnant woman might end up breaking the law to get an illegal abortion. That’s, er, true — some of them would end up doing that — but it’s an odd note for a man in his position to sound. Rarely do would-be presidents acknowledge lawbreaking as an option in any context, however disapprovingly. (Klein, applying Cain’s logic, goofs, “Theft should not be legal, but if a family decides they have to steal, that’s their decision.”) And rarely do pro-lifers suggest that criminal penalties might not be much of a deterrent. The whole point of the movement is to de-normalize abortion itself, not to lock up practitioners as punishment for what they’ve done. The more “normal” it is to carry out illegal abortions, whatever the penalty later, the greater the setback to the pro-life cause. Cain inadvertently injects a bit of that normalization here.

The good news is, now that he’s spent two days answering questions on this, sheer media fatigue with the subject will probably mean no new interrogations about it next week. New pressure will have to come from the other candidates like Michele Bachmann, who called his position “pro-abortion”(!) earlier today. Exit question: Will any of this end up doing damage to Cain’s polls? My experience with Cain fans in the comments here is that they’re extremely — extremely — loyal. Not quite as loyal as Palinistas are to Palin, maybe, but they’re getting there. Patience.

Breaking on Hot Air