Herman Cain. Period. End of story.

  Herman Cain is a fan of brevity. The businessman-turned-candidate has a penchant for answering complex questions with simple answers, adding a touch of finality to let us all know he’s said all there is to say on the matter. “I’m 100% pro-life. End of story.” “Herman Cain has never sexually harassed anyone. Period. End of story.” “The Cain Train takes the high road. End of story.” Among these simplistic analyses was Cain’s assertion refusal to back down from remark he made in March that Planned Parenthood is is perpetuating a “planned genocide” of black people. Cain went on to say that the that when Margaret Sanger created Planned Parenthood, the organization’s intitial purpose was to “help kill black babies before they came into the world,”and urged voters to “check their history.” Research by the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute disputes Cain’s assertion that the majority of Planned Parenthood clinics were in black neighborhoods. A Guttmacher study found that 63 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are in majority white neighborhoods, while just 9 percent are in majority black neighborhoods. It is true that black women have abortions at much higher rates than white women, but Cain looks to this statistic as suggesting that Planned Parenthood is aggressively attempting to prevent blacks from reproducing, instead of looking at the larger problem. Inner-city black women often do not have access to affordable contraception, and Planned Parenthood is often the only option these women have for family planning. Only 3 percent of Planned Parenhood’s services are abortion; the vast majority of services include counseling, sex education, contraception and STI testing. Margaret Sanger was a supporter of reproductive rights for women, and opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in 1921. She was a supporter of negative eugenics, which discouraged people considered undesirable from reproducing. But eugenics and genocide are not synonymous — though negative eugenics was a rationale for the Holocaust, Sanger spoke out against euthanasia of those deemed undesirable to reproduce. And though Cain correctly pointed out that “Sanger founded one of the precursors to Planned Parenthood,” he failed to note that the clinic that Sanger opened was in a predominantly white neighborhood in Brooklyn. Though Margaret Sanger played a large role in the creation of Planned Parenthood, it is not fair to blanketly equate her politics to that of the organization in 2011. Cain grossly distorts the mission of the reproductive rights movement in the United States — to provide contraception so women can plan for their health and control when they have or don’t have children. PolitiFact, a website that researches politician’s statements to determine their validity, gave Cain’s remarks about Sanger and Planned Parenthood it’s lowest rating – “Pants on fire.” Cain’s logic seems to be this: Margaret Sanger was racist, therefore Planned Parenthood is racist. While that hastily-drawn conclusion may satisfy conservatives voters, it is misleading to conflate the politics of Margaret Sanger eighty years ago with the practices of Planned Parenthood today. Cain’s fondness of tweet-length analysis makes for great sound bites, but it shortchanges issues that deserve discussion, not one-liners. It’s also not a wise practice to urge voters to check their history when after they do they’ll discover you’re full of nonsense. Though in Cain’s defense, maybe he just really, really needs someone to look up history for him. The debate over reproductive rights cannot be summed up as succinctly as Cain would like, and his outright lies about the history and mission of Planned Parenthood prevents an honest debate from occurring. Cain has proved to be remarkably inconsistent as a candidate, and his irresponsible mischaracterization of an issue that affects half the population of this country makes him a poor choice for president. Period. End of story.