Voters have been able to determine how a candidate would handle such a situation by knowing what the candidate believed about when life began. But Herman Cain has complicated the issue by bringing in another factor that voters need to be aware of.
Herman Cain's Position On Abortion
This week Cain clarified his official position on the abortion issue. It can be summed up as follows:
- He believes that life begins at conception
- He believes that no one should end an innocent human life
- He believes that it is not the job of the government to force that on any individual
This particular combination of beliefs mystifies me. Cain states that life begins at conception, but then says that it is not the job of the government to protect it (this is the catch), yet the government has laws against murder- which is an active protection of life. Now, to be fair, Cain did state that his intention is to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who are "pro-life". But the question arises: does he mean "pro-life" as in HIS definition (including the third statement above) or the traditional definition (that holds that it IS government's role to protect ALL human life). This is an area that needs further clarification. But even if he appoints judges that hold to the traditional pro-life position, that will only take him so far with voters concerned with protecting the lives of the unborn.
Two Different Laws
What if a bill comes across his desk that offers protection for the life of the unborn? This law could take one of two forms: the first would be establishing that the US government officially recognizes life as beginning at conception- this would offer protection under the same laws that protect human life against murder. The second form would be independent from the existing laws against murder and would only apply to the abortion of the unborn.
Would he sign either into law? If not, what is the distinguishing factor between the born and the unborn that makes the life of the born worthy of government protection and the life of the unborn not worthy of government protection? Cain could certainly choose to sign one into law, but not the other. On his current view, he could sign the first option into law- an official recognition of when life begins does not legislate morality, which is what Cain is trying to avoid. What it would do is clarify the boundaries of another law. However, on his current view, he could not sign the second into law, because it would be legislating morality.
A Call For Further Clarification
I believe that many voters are going to write off Cain because of his position (according to the report linked above, at least one opposing candidate is supporting that). However, Cain needs to further clarify what his intentions are regarding the issue. If he would sign into law a recognition of life beginning at conception, then the voters concerned with protecting the life of the unborn have nothing to fear. However, if Cain would not, then the voters need to recognize that even though the opportunity I provided above does exist, Cain will not take it. It is up to Herman Cain to provide further clarification of his position and intentions. He has the power to completely recover from the damage that he may receive from his first clarification. However, if he does not (by either expressing the intention to veto such a bill or by remaining silent on the issue), his reputation among conservative Republicans will certainly take a hit.
Defending The Pro-Life Position
The official recognition by the government that life begins at conception would only be justified if there was adequate evidence to support the idea that the unborn, in fact, is a human life. If you are interested in knowing the scientific evidence for this position and other ways to provide a reasoned defense against abortion, I highly recommend that you check out The Life Training Institute (here's a great article and video from them) and a book by Scott Klusendorff: The Case For Life.