Herman Cain, Abortion, and the “Hard Cases”

Herman Cain surprised and confused many Wednesday when the subject of abortion came up in a CNN interview. He first stated that his position is abortion “under no circumstances,” but then added that abortion “ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.”

Asked whether abortion is justified in the case of rape, Cain told CNN’s Piers Morgan:

“What it comes down to. It’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision.”

Friday, in an interview with Fox News, Cain clarified his position, stating, “No. No, I do not believe abortion should be legal in this country if that’s the question. I’m consistent with that.”

While Cain has clarified his view on abortion, his remarks raise the question of whether the so-called hard cases of rape and incest justify abortion.

We believe that the answer is “No.”

First of all, Scripture tells us that children should not be made to pay for the sins of their fathers: “The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…” (Ezekiel 18:20 ESV). So, when conception results from rape, that unborn child should not have to suffer what is, in effect, the death penalty for the sin of his or her father. And since women suffer after abortion, the woman pregnant after rape is made a victim twice. First from the rape, and, second, from the abortion.

What is the Unborn?
The real question to ask to resolve the so-called hard cases question is to ask, as pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf points out, What is the unborn? In other words, are we dealing here with a distinct, living, and whole human being, albeit unborn, or are we dealing merely with the so-called “product of conception,” a cellular mass somehow not yet human, as abortion advocates sometimes argue.

The answer is obvious. It’s self-evident that the unborn is, in fact, a distinct, living, and whole human being. That being so—as any competent embryology textbook will confirm—abortion is killing a human individual and can never be justified. Not in the so-called hard cases of rape or incest, and certainly not when done for convenience, as is the case for nearly all abortions in the U.S.

Here’s something else to think about when it comes to hard cases and abortion. Since the unborn child is a distinct, living, and whole human being, any argument to justify abortion should also hold true for a toddler outside the womb. For example, would we counsel a poor, single mother to end the life of her two-year-old in order to help her make ends meet and relieve the stress of caring for a little one? Of course not! So why would we counsel her to end the life of her equally human child, who is not yet born? As Klusendorf puts it in his book, The Case for Life:

“Whenever you hear an argument for elective abortion, stop and ask this question: Would this justification for killing the unborn work for killing a toddler? If not, your critic is assuming that the unborn aren’t human, a point for which he needs to argue. Trot out your toddler to expose the hidden (and perhaps unrecognized) assumptions in the argument.”

A true “hard case,” by the way, would be an ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants somewhere outside the uterus, placing the mother’s life in jeopardy. The unborn child will not survive such a pregnancy, so rather than allow two people to die, the moral choice would be to spare the mother and remove the embryo through surgical intervention. (The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that ectopic pregnancies occur at a rate of 19.7 per 1,000 pregnancies in North America.)

What do you think about abortion and the “hard cases’ of rape and incest? Post your comments below.

Truth in Action Ministries is addressing this issue to bring biblical truth to bear on a critical moral concern. It does not support or oppose candidates for elected office. The opinions expressed in the posts below are not those of Truth in Action Ministries, but are solely those of the individuals who participate.

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14 Responses to Herman Cain, Abortion, and the “Hard Cases”

  1. Dale Silvers says:

    Is it amazing that we are trying to say that the sovereignty of God is non-effect in rape and incest? God is either sovereign or he isn’t, just as Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Ishmael, Ruth, Esther and through out the entire Bible. We can sympathize with a problem but to engage in approval of an unscriptural solution is equally wrong! The evidence of pregnancy as a result of rape is very low according to the scientific community it is an excuse to take a life that is a living soul the problem is the world has influenced the church versus the church and Biblical teaching influencing the world around us. Proverbs 14:34

  2. amcken3 says:

    I hope Cain sticks with the hard line that ALL abortion is unethical. Though sadly, he may lose the race if he does. I pray I’m wrong but it is VERY unpopular to take such a stand. From personal experience I can say I’ve come to realize abortion is clearly against the will of God and I’m grateful the Lord is merciful and forgiving when we sincerely repent. HE is the giver and taker of ALL life, one child is not more or less valuable than another…to say it’s acceptable to abort a child that was conceived as a result of a rape or incest, in essence is making a value judgement this child’s life is somehow less valuable. No one in their right mind can genuinely believe that is true. Abortion is unacceptable for any reason and under any circumstance. Lord please help our country and our leaders, raise up a standard for Your glory I pray, in Jesus Christ’s holy name. Amen.

  3. boudreau5 says:

    I heard Mr. Cain, and I believe that Mr. Cain does not want the government to make that decision. It is a hard choice to make when a child is conceived through rape or incest. The child should be given up for adoption. ( I have a hard time with incest, but I know that through the bible there is many marriages within the family.) I have heard Mr. Cain on radio and have followed him, I know he is strong on his views on conceiving at conception.
    I also believe that when it comes to a life with a mother and child it is not our choice. When I had my third boy, I had God’s intervention to have the right doctor to stop my bleeding that went on for two hours. I did not know and what not in control of my situation. My baby was saved and he is now 9 years old. I also had someone that was woken up in the middle of the night by God and told to start praying for me.
    I had a friend who had a baby that was developing in her Fallopian tube and it busted on a flight. She could not have any children after that and adopted two children.
    Each case is different and we are not in control.
    Herman Cain is being beaten down by media and picking his answers apart. We should be thankful that he believe a baby is conceived at conception. I do not believe the current government feels this way.

  4. cle says:

    If you’ve heard all that Herman Cain said on the topic, you should know that he is 100% pro-life from conception. He said that he would do everything possible within the consitutional power of a president to promote life. NO government funding of abortions and no funding of Planned Parenthood.

  5. 304carole says:

    In the case of rape or incest, I believe God would not want the woman who was attacked to be tortured physically or mentally for the rest of her life due to a madman’s actions. These are the rare times I would consider the “morning after pill” to be a viable action, or a clinical abortion, from a reputable doctor, as soon as possible. And, of course, not government funded.

    • CarolAnn says:

      I understand what you say but have you considered the awful repercussions of forever knowing that you have killed another human. It is a proven fact that woman who have had an abortion have mental health problems because of the guilt associated with killing their unborn baby.
      Does anyone have the right to decided whether you should live or die? I believe only God should have that right! He knows exactly what has happened and can make all things work out for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God was there when the child is conceived (whether it was by rape or incest) and so obviously He has allowed it to be conceived and has already prepared plans for that child. We humans must stop thinking that we know best.

      • 304carole says:

        God has given man “free will”. It is not God’s plan that a man attack a woman, whether it be by rape or incest. My “opinion” is not my knowing best. God is a loving, caring, merciful God and He will forgive me if my opinion is not correct. I do not pretend to think I know best. I respect your opinion – it is up to you if you choose not respect mine.

        • kevinjk says:

          I agree with you on all points 304carole. That woman did not ask to be raped and that if people are well informed about their options (the morning after pill, etc), if or when this sort of horrible act is forced upon them, then this is not a form of abortion as you have to know for certain that you are in fact pregnant. The real moral crime here does not lie with the abortion clinics alone. We need to start with the root of the problem and that is educating our youth about premarital sex and unprotected sex and the ramifications of their decisions to go forth anyway, not that I am referring to an unborn child as a ramification by any means.

  6. rtreffts says:

    Herman was speaking about the choice of who RAISES the child in the case of rape or incest not that it would be a choice regarding abortion. Listen more carefully to the interview.

  7. brucekemp says:

    Frankly I am very disappointed in this article. Herman Cain has his own personal beliefs and states them. He is capable of having personal beliefs separate from his policy statements and how he would serve as President. You are picking out a phrase from a question about if his daughter was raped what he would do (have a family discussion) versus the legality of abortion and what he would do as president. There is a distinction and you have muddied the waters.

    Herman Cain’s pro-life position is unequivocal. See Meet the Press starting at minute 21: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/#44921014

  8. srulison says:

    Herman Cain never did directly answer the question posed to him. Instead, he rather carefully and skillfully deflected his response in the direction of a public policy issue. I believe he has elsewhere clearly stated his personal position on this issue, which is unequivocally pro-life. He should be judged on his independently stated positions, not on comments made during verbal sparring with a biased news commentator in the middle of a political campaign.

  9. Nancy says:

    I agree with this article wholeheartedly–why should a child be made to suffer for the sins of the father? Two wrongs will never make a right. To give the gift of life and make an adoption plan for a child would be the most loving action for a mother who is unable to raise her child for whatever reason, but we shouldn’t assume that a child conceived in rape or incest cannot be loved by his mother. Consider James Robison’s amazing testimony. Doubtless, there are many others like it. Abortion is the most vile, inhuman lie mankind has ever believed–it is itself an abuse of women, even if a woman chooses it, because she does not know what she is choosing until it is too late. All life matters because it was given as a precious gift by Our Creator. May all eyes be opened to the truth about abortion and may abortion’s days come to an end soon.

  10. bob says:

    I belive like Brucekemp, above, that Mr. Cain does NOT believe in abortion! He simply said that the government should NOT be making the choice as to whether abortion is legal or not. It is a choice, whether you are pro or anti abortion, that the woman about to give birth should make, as opposed to the government!

    Just because he really didn’t say it too well, makes it another case of the media looking for a chance to exploit Mr. Cain and revel on their anti Christian slant. I’m surprised that the petitioner’s aren’t finding a more pressing subject than Mr. Cain’s, not well spoken, remarks. REMEMBER, MR. CAIN WAS ON THE FIRING LINE AND WAS BEIHG FIRED AT FROM SEVERAL DIRECTIONS. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID, EXTEMPORANIOUSLY, UNDER SIMILAR CONDITIONS? GIVE HIM A BREAK!

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