It’s not often that I agree with Philip Klein, or with Commentary, on anything, but on Herman Cain’s inability to articulate his position about abortion rights, they make a couple of important points.
Cain apparently wants people to believe that he is “100% pro-life” and does not think abortion should be an option under any circumstances, and that abortion is a personal choice that the government should not be involved in. The confusion he created gets even thicker when Piers Morgan asks Cain whether, if his own daughter or granddaughter were pregnant as the result of rape, he would truly want her to “bring up that baby as her own” — which of course is not the central problem at all with rape or incest survivors being denied the right to have an abortion. Yet, Cain tells Morgan that he is “mixing two things here” — which actually is correct — and then proceeds to demonstrate that he has no clue about the nature of the mix-up, which obviously is about forcing a rape or incest survivor to go through full-term pregnancy and childbirth — not about forcing a rape or incest survivor to raise the baby after having given birth.
So neither Morgan nor Cain knows or understands the nature of the issue that is in contention here, and that’s a newsworthy point in itself — one which few commentators appear to have noticed. Some, like David Freddoso, are themselves utterly confused about Morgan’s confusion:
The one that makes sense is that Cain is discussing whether he’d want his granddaughter or daughter to be forced to raise the baby. (Despite the rhetoric of abortion proponents, there are other options besides “raising” a baby and killing it.) This isn’t ever explicitly said, but it’s not contradicted by anything in the subsequent conversation. It is mildly hinted at when Cain says that Piers is confusing two separate issues. It is also a coherent way of reading Cain’s answer, that doesn’t contradict everything he’s said previously.
Which clearly also misses the point, which is not whether anyone is suggesting that women should be forced to raise children conceived in rape, but whether women who are pregnant as the result of rape should be forced to carry and bear the rapist’s baby.
But getting back to Klein, Commentary, and those important points. First one is that anti-abortion zealots don’t give a damn about personal opposition to abortion. If you think you don’t have the right to impose your personal opposition on others, you are pro-choice:
“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 that women should be able to legally obtain abortions if they choose to do so. …
And the second point? Those anti-abortion zealots are right. If you are personally opposed to abortion but don’t believe you have the right to impose your opinions on others, you ARE pro-choice:
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.
Yes, exactly. That’s what pro-choice means. Despite the rhetoric of abortion opponents, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. It means pro. – choice.