WASHINGTON -- The conservative Susan B. Anthony List sent out an email announcing that Herman Cain had become the latest presidential candidate to sign its 'Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge' on Tuesday.
The pledge commits candidates to supporting a strict anti-abortion rights platform, including choosing "pro-life appointees" to the courts and the executive branch.
Candidates also commit to trying to defund Planned Parenthood, advancing legislation to "permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs," and supporting a "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion."
"This decision is consistent with the Herman Cain we have come to know," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement. "He understands the wound abortion is to America and especially to the most vulnerable among us -- people that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger labeled 'human weeds.' We commend Mr. Cain for adding his name to the list of candidates who have signed the pledge, and should he be elected to the White House, look forward to his leadership in the mission to protect Life."
"Where my powers in the Executive Branch are concerned, I will work at all times to oppose government funding of abortion," Cain said. "I will veto any legislation that contains funds for abortions. I will do everything that a President can do constitutionally to advance the culture of life."
Besides Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all already signed the pledge.
The SBA List has sharply criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for refusing to sign on.
Cain raised eyebrows among conservatives last month for suggesting to CNN's Piers Morgan that abortion be left up to families. "It's not the government's role -- or anybody else's role -- to make that decision," he said. "So what I'm saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide."
The remarks roiled conservatives and provided fodder for Democrats to paint Cain as pro-choice. Cain quickly backpedaled, tweeting the next day, "I'm 100% pro-life. End of story."
Cain has since said he is "pro-life from conception." He believes that Planned Parenthod is "planned genocide," and that the organization's mission to "help kill black babies before they came into the world."
The 2012 GOP Candidates on Women's Rights:
Romney's position on abortion and other women's health issues switched from pro-choice to anti-choice during his term as governor from 2003 to 2007, and his record on choice-related issues is mixed. He vetoed a measure that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception without a prescription to rape victims, but he signed into law a measure to expand family planning services for low-income women and families in Massachusetts. Romney was also one of the few GOP candidates who refused to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's pro-life pledge, because his camp said it could have some "potentially unforeseen consequences." But he believes abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, and he said if he were president he would support the reversal of Roe v. Wade. "This is not the time for the Republican Party to put up a candidate who is weak on the pro-life issue or has a history of flip-flopping over it," Bachmann said of Romney at a National Right to Life convention in June. Romney said as president he would defund Planned Parenthood, and then took it even further saying he'd "get rid of that" altogether.
During his 19 years in Congress, Gingrich cast 74 votes on reproductive rights, women's health and family planning issues, and 72 of those were anti-choice. Gingrich voted multiple times to give legal "personhood" status to an embryo and supported the Federal Abortion Ban, which would impose a two-year prison sentence on doctors who perform certain kinds of abortions. He also repeatedly voted to deny military women the right to have abortions at military hospitals, even if they paid for it themselves, and cited "biological problems" as his reason for opposing women's right to join the military. As president, Gingrich has said he would try to defund Planned Parenthood and eliminate the entire Title X program, which provides non-abortion family planning services for millions of low-income women across the country.
Paul has stated he is pro-life, however he's more moderate on abortion than some of the other GOP presidential candidates, particularly Rick Santorum. When pressed, he conceded that if one of his daughters was raped, he would not want her to have the child. Paul weighed in on contraception on "The Tonight Show" in March. As a former OBG-YN, Paul said he's prescribed a lot of contraception. "If people have reservations about abortion, the abortion is the issue, it isn't the birth control pill. It isn't the instrument, he said.
Santorum wants abortion banned in all circumstances, even in cases of rape and incest; is opposed to all family planning programs; and believes that schools should be forbidden to teach students about contraception. As a senator, Santorum voted against funding pregnancy prevention programs for teens and voted for the "family cap" and the "illegitimacy cap," which would have financially penalized low-income women for having children and penalized states for children born out of wedlock. And one of Santorum's priorities as president, he has said, will be to defund Planned Parenthood, which he believes is motivated by racism and eugenics. "I can't imagine any other organization with its roots as poisonous as the roots of Planned Parenthood getting federal funding of any kind," he told reporters in April.