Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway provides a very complete run down of Mr. Cain's recent Q&As on the pro-life issue.
I'm not going to rehash Mr. Cain's recent both-sides-of-the-fence statements on abortion, as Doug did such a good job. I agree that Mr. Cain's stance is coming across as basically pro-choice, in that he is using the "personal choice" argument, while also saying the practice should be "illegal"; two, mutually exclusive positions.
I did dig up this interview given by Mr. Cain to Human Events during his run for the US Senate seat from Georgia, dated October 3, 2003. In it, there is the following exchange:
HE: Where do you stand on abortion?
CAIN: Pro-life, conception to the grave.
HE: Do you favor a human life amendment?
CAIN: Explain to me what you mean by the human life amendment?
HE: Well, the human life amendment, which has been in the Republican platform since, I think, 1980, and would go in the United States Constitution, stating just that an unborn child has a right to life from conception.
CAIN: I would support that, stated the way you state it. Yes, I would.Ok, what are we to draw from all of this? I will take Mr. Cain at his word that he is pro-life, but his equivocation on government's role in assuring the sanctity of life is disturbing, particularly in the shortcomings he's shown in responding to pointed questions on other issues. His explanation is lacking to say the least, but I do believe that there is a constitutional explanation that could be brought into play.
I raise this possible explanation only as it is directly related to my own, very strong pro-life views.
I am unabashedly pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception. I believe abortion to be abhorrent and a violation of fundamental rights. I believe life must be defended from conception until natural death. Our Founding Fathers had no doubt in their mind on the issue of life when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of HappinessThe pursuit of happiness is impossible unless one has liberty, and one can not have liberty unless they have their life. I am a firm believer that our Constitution is meaningless unless it it viewed in the context and light of the Declaration. The Constitution was amended as follows with:
No person...[shall] be deprived of life...without due process of law (Amendment V)
[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life...without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Amendment XIV, Section 1)The right to life is essential to both the Declaration and the Constitution. If there is an unalienable right to life and that human life begins at conception, there is no question that abortion violates the rights of the unborn. And no, I am not arguing for a "due process" solution to allow for abortion. Unfortunately, as the Constitution is silent as to what constitutes "life", the only words we can draw upon in the Constitution to determine the federal government's role in abortion are:
[The Congress shall have power] To make Rules for the Government (Article I, Section 8, Clause 14)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. (Amendment IX)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. (Amendment X)I believe that the Constitution clearly gives the Congress the power under the "rules" clause to determine how the federal government will deal with abortion, but only with respect to the legitimate, constitutional roles and functions of the government itself; e.g. Congress can forbid federal monies from being spent on abortion, but can not control states' expenditures. A pro-abortion (I do not like the term pro-choice since I see no middle ground in this issue), rejection of human life beginning at conception, reading of Amendment IX could (sadly) be used to say that the right to an abortion is simply an unenumerated one retained by the people.
Barring a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, I believe that Amendment X is the true governing principle that we must rely upon with respect to abortion, much as it breaks my heart to say. The Roe vs. Wade decision is a direct assault on the Tenth Amendment rights of the states. Were Roe to be overturned, as I sincerely hope and pray it is, the governance of the practice of abortion would revert to where it belongs under the current text of the Constitution: the states. A Tenth Amendment revert on abortion would not see this tragedy swept from the United States, but it would from many states. In my own, Pennsylvania, I have no doubt that the practice will be dramatically curtailed, and that we all will be better for it.
All of this being said, and with my personal pro-life stance fully on the table, I have to say also that I am not - and never will be - a single-issue voter that decides solely on a candidate's or politician's pro-life stance. Certainly, I prefer pro-life politicians, but politicians swear an oath to the Constitution as written, not to how we'd like it to be written.
Now, to relate this back to Mr. Cain. I believe it to be completely consistent to argue that abortion, under the current text of the Constitution, is largely under the purview of the states under Amendment X, assuming an overturn of Roe, and that such a concession to the states that would maintain the legality of abortion is not a disqualification or detraction from one's stance as a pro-life believer. Mr. Cain has not articulated such a view.
A Presidential candidate claiming to be pro-life must be on the record supporting a Human Life Amendment in my book. The Constitutional ambiguity between our unalienable right to life as established by the Declaration (again, the Constitution is meaningless without it) and Amendments IX and X must be resolved, but can only be so resolved by amending the text. Life is too serious an issue to leave open to interpretation, inference, or mere legislation.
Mr. Cain, while supporting the premise of such an amendment in the interview of eight years ago, has not been similarly explicit today; a supposition that, "Well, he wasn't asked," is just a cop-out. The only plausible explanation for Mr. Cain to make that I can see, barring a complete retraction of his equivocal statements, is the Constitutional ambiguity argument I have laid out above.
Now, while it is clear from the Constitution that the President has no role in the amendment process (Article V), it is clear to me that as the head of government and head of state, I want our President to be the champion of all individual rights, including that of life.
The President of the United States, while holding no official role in the process, would nonetheless be the most powerful voice crusading for the rights of the truly defenseless unborn.
Mr. Cain, back to you...