(Photo: REUTERS / Rebecca Cook)
Cain tried to reassure critics that he is indeed pro-life but his libertarian answer to an abortion question this week has some worried that he may not be a strong social conservative.
Amid controversy over Cain's Wednesday night interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Cain tweeted Thursday, "I'm 100% pro-life. End of story." However the story is far from over. Cain's question begs the question, is Cain truly pro-life?
Cain told Morgan, "I believe that life begins at conception and abortion under no circumstances."
Personal friend Alveda King also vouches for Cain's social conservatism. King wrote, "In our many conversations Mr. Cain has remained solid for life, marriage and family" in a blog post titled "Is Herman Cain Pro-Life?"
King, a pastoral associate for Priests for Life, believes in "life from conception to natural death" and marriage between one man and one woman.
So Cain may be pro-life. Yet when asked by Morgan if Cain would want his daughter or granddaughter to bear a child in the case of rape, the GOP candidate replied, "It comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision."
Notably, less than a week ago, Cain indicated on NBC's “Meet the Press” that he was against abortion even in instances of rape and incest. He said those instances are “miniscule.” But when it comes to the life of a mother being at risk, Cain said the decision should be left to the family.
Morgan pressed the businessman during his interview, saying, "You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially, massively more important. They become a directive to the nation."
Cain, however, responded, "No they don't. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make."
Cain's no-government-intrusion response to abortion could be construed as a libertarian. However Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the only outspoken libertarian, is staunchly pro-life.
Sensing the disparity between Cain's stated beliefs and his CNN response, social conservative and fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum proclaimed, "Herman Cain said that he believes life begins at conception, but that it's up to the individual to decide whether or not to terminate that life. And I find it gravely troubling that Herman believes it's a life, but that he doesn't consider it a life worth fighting for."
Cain did not sign pro-life lobbyist Susan B. Anthony List's pro-life pledge. Romney was the only other candidate who refused to sign the pledge. In addition to refusing to sign the pledge, Cain said that he would not support federal fetal pain legislation. The fetal pain bill extends the definition of a personhood to the moment an unborn child can feel pain.
Fetal pain laws ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy because the law states that the fetus can feel pain at that point.
Cain was also one of three candidates who refused to sign the National Organization for Marriage's pro-marriage pledge. However, he has said that he would defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court.