Cain & Pro-life

Presidential candidates must communicate clearly, and not leave any doubt as to where they stand on issues. Herman Cain confused conservatives the other day with his language on abortion. Some claimed he was waffling on the issue because he declared himself pro-life but also said abortion was the decision of the family. His precise wording did cause some confusion, but a careful examination of the context of that wording, I believe, shows he was talking about two things: first, the extremely rare cases of rape, incest, and the danger of the mother dying; second, the exact role of the presidency in policy.

On that first point, Cain is on record as opposing abortion even in the cases of rape or incest because it is still the taking of an innocent life. The child has done nothing wrong.

On that second point, Cain has been consistent. A few months ago, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, sought to have all the Republican contenders sign a pro-life pledge. Cain chose not to do so, and that raised concerns. However, his objection was not on the substance itself, but on the proper role of the president in promoting one aspect of it, a nuance most people missed. Cain wanted to be sure that the Congress took its constitutional responsibility in leading.

Cain’s response to how some conservatives viewed his latest comments was direct:

Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the president. I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion.

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.

As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100% pro-life. End of story.

I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a president can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.

Just statements or facts? Cain’s whole life, and how he has conducted himself on the abortion issue prior to running for president, testify that he is exactly what he said: a 100% pro-lifer. Actions always speak louder than words.

What disturbs me is that other candidates, such as Rick Santorum, jumped on the confusion to declare that Cain’s position is no different than any pro-choice Democrat’s view. That was rash. That was dishonest. That bothers me deeply because it shows a willingness to pile on for one’s own personal gain. Santorum has been a bulwark of integrity on the pro-life issue. To manipulate this incident in an attempt to advance his own candidacy is a stain on that integrity.

Meanwhile, Cain has to make sure he doesn’t create unwanted negative publicity by being vague or seemingly contradictory in his comments. He is now a top-tier candidate, and he needs to be more careful since every word will be scrutinized in a way that it wasn’t before. Is he up to the challenge? The next few months will make this clear.