Updated: 10/20/2011 at 7:12 pm.

October 20, 2011 ( – Top GOP 2012 contender Herman Cain has provoked confusion amongst his pro-life base after he appeared to profess a “pro-choice” position on abortion in cases of rape or incest.


Cain told CNN’s Piers Morgan that, while he believes life begins at conception and is personally opposed to all abortions, when the child is conceived in rape or incest, the option about whether to keep the child “ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.”

“It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision,” he said.

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When pressed by Morgan on how that would affect his policy as president, Cain said, “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 a social decision that they need to make.”

After a firestorm of protest from pro-life Cain supporters, the presidential candidate issued a statement to Christian Broadcast News’ David Brody Thursday afternoon attempting to clarify his answer to the question.

“Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the President,” Cain said. “I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply ‘order’ people to not seek an abortion.”

“My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.”

He further stated:

I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.”

Cain had also suggested that it is a woman’s “choice” whether or not to end a pregnancy caused by rape in another interview with John Stossel of Fox Business, where his answers appeared to provoke head scratching similar to that caused by his responses to Piers Morgan.

Cain responded to an initial question about the abortion issue by saying that he was “pro-life from conception.” Then, after Stossel asked if they were any cases where abortion should be legal, Cain responded enigmatically, “I don’t think government should make that decision.”

He appeared to clarify this a moment later saying, “No, people shouldn’t be free to abort, because if we don’t protect the sanctity of life from conception we will also start to play God relative to life at the end of life.

Stossel then said that he was “confused” about what Cain’s position was. “If a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to end the pregnancy?”

“That’s her choice,” Cain responded. “That is not government’s choice. I support life from conception.”

“So, abortion should be legal,” Stossel prompted. 

“No, abortion should not be legal,” Cain responded. “I believe in the sanctity of life.”

“I’m not getting it, I’m not understanding,” Stossel stuttered in response. “If it’s her choice, it’s legal.”

“No,” Cain shot back. “I don’t believe a woman should have an abortion, does that help clear it up?”

“Even if she is raped,” says Stossel.

“Even if she is raped or is the victim of incest, because there are other options,” Cain concluded.

In his speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington earlier this month, Cain drew loud applause with his “no exceptions” message about abortion.

“When you run for president and you move into the top tier, I’m just saying—you get this bull’s-eye on your back,” said Cain. “And people take pot shots left and right. But I don’t want you to be unclear about where I stand on certain things. … So let me just set the record straight. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I believe in life from conception, period, no exceptions.”