Commentary Magazine


Cain’s Pro-Life Problem

Herman Cain might find himself in trouble with social conservatives after taking a wobbly stance on abortion during an interview with Piers Morgan last night. (Cain says he’s opposed to abortion under any circumstances, but that this shouldn’t be the government’s decision.) But the flap also points to a deeper problem for Cain’s campaign, as Phil Klein notes:

It’s no surprise that staunch pro-lifer Rick Santorum immediately seized on the controversy and released a statement targeting Cain’s abortion comments. But it goes beyond just social conservatives. The inconsistent statements suggest he hasn’t thought the issue through clearly enough, which is also a criticism of his 9-9-9 plan and his shallow foreign policy statements. Now that he’s viewed as a top tier candidate, he won’t be able to get away with winging it.

“I’m 100% pro-life,” Cain tweeted moments ago. “End of story.” But that is nowhere near the end of the story. The question raised by the interviews is not whether he considers himself personally pro-life, but whether he thinks women should be able to legally obtain abortions if they choose to do so.

It shouldn’t be a complicated question to answer. You’re either in favor of legal abortion, or you’re opposed to it. Cain’s free to say he’s personally pro-life, but if he doesn’t think government should outlaw it, then at the end of the day he’s pro-choice.

It’s particularly interesting that Cain is suddenly being so fuzzy on this issue, especially since he ran as the unwavering pro-life candidate during his unsuccessful 2004 Senate campaign. He also did the voiceover for a controversial pro-life political ad in 2006, which came under fire at the time for allegedly promoting racial stereotypes. It’s not as if he hasn’t thought out his stance on the issue. Which is why it’s downright strange he’s having trouble explaining his views.

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