ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Herman Cain on Sunday said he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake, contradicting previous statements in which he favored some exceptions.
The tough stand that Cain staked out during an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” comes as he tries to clear up his position on an issue closely watched by social conservative and evangelical voters, who are among his strongest supporters.
In a 1998 interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, the former pizza executive described himself as “pro-life with exceptions, and people want you to be all or nothing.”
In a recent interview with CNN, he said the government should not tell women what to do in cases of rape and incest. Afterward, his campaign issued a statement saying he was “100 percent pro-life.” It did not specifically mention whether he supported any exceptions.
The no-exception position is considered the most rigid in the anti-abortion community. Even some who oppose abortion support exceptions in extreme circumstances such as when the mother’s life is at risk.
Cain told CBS he’s “pro-life from conception, period.”
Asked whether that includes instances of rape, incest and life of the mother, Cain said, “Correct. That’s my position.”
He also endorsed a controversial theory linking abortion to racial genocide. Cain said Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to eradicate minorities by putting birth control clinics in their neighborhoods, a charge that the group denies.
Cain said 75 percent of the organization’s abortion facilities were built in black communities.
“In Margaret Sanger’s own words, she didn’t use the word genocide, but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born,” Cain said.
But Planned Parenthood disputed Cain’s claims, citing a study by the Guttmacher Institute that found that fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are in in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
“Herman Cain is wrong on the facts and clearly out of the mainstream in his attack on Planned Parenthood,” spokeswoman Veronica Byrd said in a statement.
“It is simply unacceptable for those who oppose legal abortion to use inflammatory and divisive language based on race to push an ideological agenda.”
Still, Cain’s view has gained currency in the anti-abortion movement, which has backed several state measures to ban abortions based on race. In Cain’s home state of Georgia, dozens of provocative billboards popped around Atlanta last year labeling black children an “endangered species” in an effort to use race to rally support against abortion within the black community.