Helen Whalen Cohen

So far there are three GOP contenders who won't sign the Susan B. Anthony List pledge to only appoint pro-life judges and cabinet members-Gary Johnson, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. Gary Johnson is pro-choice, but what about the other two?

Herman Cain's position has to do with checks and balances. Cain says he won't sign it because he does not believe that, as president, he should advance Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He clarified that, as president, he would happily sign the bill, but it's Congress's job to advance it. From his press release:


"I support right-to-life issues unequivocally and I adamantly support the first three aspects of the Susan B. Anthony pledge involving appointing pro-life judges, choosing pro-life cabinet members, and ending taxpayer-funded abortions. 

However, the fourth requirement demands that I 'advance' the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. As president, I would sign it, but Congress must advance the legislation.

I have been a consistent and unwavering champion of pro life issues. 

In no way does this singular instance of clarification denote an abandonment of the pro-life movement, but instead, is a testament to my respect for the balance of power and the role of the presidency."

Romney's reasons were a little different. He says that while he agrees with the goals of the Susan B. Anthony List, he does not want to end federal funding for hospitals, or be barred from appointing a cabinet member who is not pro-life. He lays it all out at The Corner:


As much as I share the goals of the Susan B. Anthony List, its well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences. That is why I could not sign it. It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood; it is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America. That is precisely what the pledge would demand and require of a president who signed it. 

The pledge also unduly burdens a president’s ability to appoint the most qualified individuals to a broad array of key positions in the federal government. I would expect every one of my appointees to carry out my policies on abortion and every other issue, irrespective of their personal views.

Well, there you have it. What do you think? Are these good reasons to duck the pledge, or is it time to start looking elsewhere?

Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.