To get an answer, you can try starting here—with his answer to John Stossel. If you don’t have time, it can be summarized by saying it’s completely incomprehensible. I’d say he is pro-choice, and also pro-life, but mainly pro-choice in a pro-lifey sort of way. Make sense?
His clarification on CNN is good if you’re looking for clarification, but bad if you’re hoping Herman Cain is pro-life. That is, until Herman Cain wrote on Twitter that “I'm 100% pro-life. End of story.”
So, what’s the truth? I think you have to throw out the Stossel response as brain freeze. Like, he just had a pint of ice cream before the question was asked, and his brain was literally frozen and not functioning. That happens to all of us.
But, his CNN clarification outlines what I think is the most relevant part of the discussion—his policy.
"I believe that life begins at conception. And abortion under no circumstances," Cain said. But, he also said it’s not “the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision…. 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 the family and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue…The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decision that they need to make.
He reiterates the same sentiment to David Gregory:
Cain tells Gregory that he's against abortion without exception, even in cases of rape or incest (putting him to the right, by the way, of both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry). But when asked whether his opposition also applies to cases in which the life of the mother is at risk, Cain repeats this vague response three times: "That family is going to have to make that decision."
In other words, Herman Cain doesn’t personally believe you should have an abortion under any circumstances. That’s what he means when he writes on twitter “I’m 100% pro-life. End of story.”
But, to be honest, I don’t really care what he thinks about abortion in his personal life. His personal opinion is little more than a somewhat interesting aside compared to what he believes the role of the government in the process might be.
The abortion debate is about government policy. When should the government allow abortions to take place, if at all? The abortion debate isn’t about what you’d do for yourself or your family.
To put all of this another way: these quotes would make you believe Herman Cain is roughly equal to Rudy Giuliani on abortion. When Rudy had this opinion, many conservatives said it disqualified him from the nomination completely. Why is it okay for Cain? (Are you anti-Italian or something?)
Think about this—in 2008, Mitt Romney was called too socially liberal because he USED to have the abortion position that Herman Cain seems to CURRENTLY hold. Just the fact that Mitt Romney formerly held the current Cain position was enough to call Romney a current liberal, but current Cain is able to be the socially conservative choice while currently holding the former Romney position. Got that?
All of this has caused Cain to further clarify/spin/walk back. Here's what he came up with:
"Abortion should not be legal, that is clear. But if that family made a decision to break the law, that's that family's decision, that's all I'm trying to say."
This is just a bunch of flailing at this point. Does anyone really believe a presidential candidate would knowingly talk about illegal behavior by saying "whatever they decide, they decide"??
Whether you believe his latest "clarification" or not, Cain seems to have issues at times explaining his mini-controversies without them turning into major controversies. He's a really good communicator, but this sort of stuff will really hurt him should he become the actual nominee. We're hoping to have him on this week to clarify. I'd like him to answer this question:
Which of these statements do you most agree with:
a) I disagree personally with abortion in all cases, but it should not be illegal because families have to make their own choices on the matter.
b) I disagree personally with abortion in all cases, and it should be illegal except for (fill in your selection of horrific causes/outcomes, ie, rape, incest, life/health of mother, etc). In those cases, families must make their own decisions.
c) I disagree personally with abortion in all cases, and it should be illegal in all cases.
PS--There are always candidates that are morally opposed to abortion, but want it to be legal. Are there any candidates who are morally in favor of abortion but want the government to ban it? That would be entertaining.