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Nancy Keenan writes to Herman Cain

October 26th, 2011 • Contributed by Dino Corvino
Posted in: Abortion

Digg This!

Dear Mr. Cain,

Leading in the polls for the Republican nomination for president can be tiresome, can’t it?

After your interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan earlier this month, people were a little confused about your stance on a woman’s right to choose.

Then you issued this clarifying statement:


Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the president.

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 [emphasis added]. That was the point I was trying to convey.

As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100 percent pro-life. End of story.

Let’s start with the things we agree on: you are 100 percent opposed to a woman’s right to choose abortion care–even in cases of rape or incest–and have made that position clear on numerous occasions. End of story.

But that part about the president having “no constitutional authority” to interfere with the private decisions a woman makes with her doctor? That’s where I’m forced to disagree with you.

The president has tremendous power over reproductive-health policy in the United States.

In fact, NARAL Pro-Choice America published The Powers of the President: Reproductive Freedom and Choice, a helpful guide that can provide you with insight on why your earlier statement is wrong.

Here are just a few of the powers you would have as President Cain:


  • The power to appoint federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. The next president could nominate enough Supreme Court justices to determine the future of Roe v. Wade and women’s constitutional right to choose for decades to come.
  • The power to appoint cabinet and other executive-branch officials. Each of these appointees wields significant power over reproductive freedom and health. For example, the FDA commissioner is responsible for approving new contraceptives and medical-abortion options–or, conversely, stalling them, as previous appointees by anti-choice presidents did.
  • The power to issue executive orders. For example, previous anti-choice presidents imposed the global gag rule on overseas health centers, and the Federal Refusal Rule, which allowed health-care corporations to refuse to provide or refer for abortion care and a broad range of other health-care services.
  • The power to approve or veto legislation. Anti-choice forces currently control the U.S. House of Representatives, and have passed extreme, anti-choice bills, including H.R.358, the “Let Women Die” bill. While the Senate currently is under pro-choice leadership, only 40 senators can be counted on as reliably pro-choice votes. The president could be the deciding factor in whether these outrageous attacks on women’s freedom and privacy become law.

As this presidential race continues, I’m sure that you will continue to be asked questions about the powers and responsibilities of the office you seek.

Thus, I invite you to read The Powers of the President for more details. It’s only four pages long, making it the perfect travel companion to all those debates.

Warm regards,

Nancy Keenan
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America


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