To our fellow pro-lifers who oppose abortion
And our fellow peace advocates who oppose the death penalty
Here are some reflections on the connection between the two, in which abortion opponents explain how consistency leads them to opposing the death penalty as well.
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life
"There is, indeed, an important connection between abortion and the death penalty, and my pro-life work throughout the world has shown me that opponents of abortion are very likely to be opposed to the death penalty as well. Certainly, they are not identical issues. There's a big difference between a criminal and a perfectly innocent baby. Yet at the same time, the difference is not so great as to obscure the equal dignity of both."
Richard A. Viguerie
When Governments Kill: A conservative argues for abolishing the death penalty.
“Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation . . . But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people. Those of us who oppose abortion believe that it is perhaps the greatest immorality to take an innocent life. While the death penalty is supposed to take the life of the guilty, we know that is not always the case. It should have shocked the consciences of conservatives when various government prosecutors withheld exculpatory, or opposed allowing DNA-tested, evidence in death row cases. To conservatives, that should be deemed as immoral as abortion . . . But even when guilt is certain, there are many downsides to the death penalty system.”
2008 candidate for U.S. Republican nomination, U.S. Representative from Texas
Liberty Defined, 2011
“The consistent right-to-life position should be to protect the unborn and oppose abortion, to reject the death penalty, and to firmly oppose our foreign policy that promotes an empire requiring aggressive wars that involve thousands of innocent people being killed. We would all be better off for it, and a society dedicated to peace, human life, and prosperity would more likely be achieved."
Nicholas T. Wright,
former Anglican Bishop of Durham, England
(and author of several books as N.T. Wright or Tom Wright)
"You can’t reconcile being pro-life on abortion and pro-death on the death penalty. Almost all the early Christian Fathers were opposed to the death penalty, even though it was of course standard practice across the ancient world. As far as they were concerned, their stance went along with the traditional ancient Jewish and Christian belief in life as a gift from God, which is why (for instance) they refused to follow the ubiquitous pagan practice of “exposing” baby girls (i.e. leaving them out for the wolves or for slave-traders to pick up).
"Mind you, there is in my view just as illogical a position on the part of those who solidly oppose the death penalty but are very keen on the 'right' of a woman (or couple) to kill their conceived but not yet born child."
Sam Brownback, as Republican United States Senator
U.S. News and World Report,
April 11, 2005. p. 34
“If we're trying to establish a culture of life, it's difficult to have the state sponsoring executions.”
as Governor of Kansas when a bill was being debated
Topeka Capital Journal, March 17, 2014, online
[Brownback] did say in an interview . . . that anti-abortion activists had increasingly been drawn into the capital punishment conversation. "You here it being connected," Brownback said. "You hear it more frequently now."
leading Republican on the Minnesota's Senate Judiciary Committee, on Governor Pawlenty's efforts to reinstate the death penalty
Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 7, 2003
“Life is a gift from God. It isn't up to us to take it away. Whether you take an innocent life of a baby, or of a person who has committed a heinous act, it is still an act at our hands, and it makes us a less caring and less sensitive society.”
State Senator Tony Blair, Republican of Ohio
There’s been a summer pause in the execution of Ohio’s death row inmates and state Rep. Terry Blair would like to see that pause made permanent.
“I don’t think we have any business in taking another person’s life, even for what we call a legal purpose or what we might refer to as a justified purpose,” the Washington Twp. Republican said. He’s one of just two Republican cosponsors of House Bill 160, legislation to abolish the death penalty in Ohio and replace it with life imprisonment without parole for the worst crimes.
For Blair, it’s a matter of living out his Catholic faith. “The creeds of the church say that life is to be protected all along, from natural birth to natural death,” said Blair, 64.
He’s also a cosponsor of the “Heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected.
In 2009, he was one of just five House Republicans — along with Rep. Ross McGregor of Springfield and then Rep. Peggy Lehner of Kettering — who joined Democrats in a historic vote approving gay rights legislation banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. . . .
The legislation banning the death penalty may not get that far, but Celeste said it helps to have a Republican cosponsor in a GOP-controlled House.
Leszek Syski, activist
Leszek Syski is a Maryland antiabortion activist who says that he "became convinced that the question of whether or not murderers deserve to die is the wrong one. The real question is whether other humans have a right to kill them." He concluded that they do not after conversations with an opponent of capital punishment who asked, "Why don't we torture prisoners? Torturing them is less than killing them." Mr. Syski believes that "torture is dehumanizing, but capital punishment is the essence of dehumanization."
Christian Josi, Former Executive Director, American Conservative Union
"My fundamental problems with the death penalty began as a result of my personal concern, echoed by many on all sides of the political spectrum, that it was inconsistent for one to be 'pro-life' on the one hand and condone government execution on the other. . .
But the real kicker for me in this argument came quite recently, when . . . I stumbled upon an actual government manual on executions. It is a 50-plus page handbook for bureaucrats that details every move made from about a month before a scheduled execution to 30 minutes after (including detailed post-mortem clean-up procedures). It is cold and antiseptic in nature, and by virtue probably the most morbid thing I have ever laid eyes on. Our tax dollars paid for it.
Think about this: Last week, somewhere in the Terre Haute area, an individual employed by the government woke up, got dressed, perhaps saw his or her children off to school, and headed off to work knowing that the taking of a life was among the days tasks. . . .
How can a conservative who rejects the culture of death draw much of a distinction between a government employee administering death to an incarcerated individual and an abortionist ending the life of an unborn child? Of course, the unborn are innocent while those sentenced to death are in most cases guilty. Still, a life is a life.
Colby Coash, Nebraska state senator
instrumental in the repeal of death penalty, final vote May 27, 2015
quoted in Time Magazine, May 20, 2015
"I'm a pro-life guy. I couldn't reconcile my pro-life beliefs regarding the unborn with doing something different with the condemned."
Christian Josi, Former Executive Director, American Conservative Union
My fundamental problems with the death penalty began as a result of my personal concern, echoed by many on all sides of the political spectrum, that it was inconsistent for one to be ‘pro-life’ on the one hand and condone government execution on the other.
Laura Peredo, president of Ravens Respect Life at Benedictine College March 17, 2015
at a press conference supporting a law to repeal the death penalty in the U.S. state of Kansas
No crime can change the fundamental truth that every human life possesses dignity from the moment of conception until natural death. I am one of a growing number of young people who support repealing the death penalty—a reform that demonstrates our unwavering commitment to safeguarding life at all stages, without exceptions.