Sunday, February 8, 2009

You mean you're a pro-lifer who supports the death penalty?

In recent weeks I have seen to run into a number of pro-lifers (either directly, or through articles) who believe capitol punishment is wrong.  Not only do they oppose the death penalty, but they also believe that it is a contradiction to both oppose abortion, and support the death penalty.

As a pro-lifer who supports the death penalty, I want to take this moment to explain why this position is not hypocritical, or illogical.  This post is not meant to be a defense of the death penalty; in fact I will not deal with most of the traditional arguments on each side of the death penalty debate.  All I will do in this post is show two ways I believe it is logical for someone to both oppose abortion and support the death penalty.

As we begin, it is important to define what I mean when I say that I am pro-life.  I believe that we must seek to recognize and defend the personhood of all people from "conception (and sadly fertilization) to natural death."  This means that I recognize life as beginning at conception/fertilization, and we must protect this unborn life.  The phrase "natural death" refers to defending the mentally retarded and aged from being euthanized, or otherwise having their lives cut short.

At this point those that oppose the death penalty are thinking, "Ha if believes in protecting life till natural death then he will have to come to our side eventually."  However this only leads to the first reason a pro-lifer should support the death penalty.  If someone is taking lives, preventing people from living life till natural death, and their execution will save lives shouldn't pro-lifers advocate the death penalty?  See really the death penalty is one way to protect the right to life.

The second reason that the death penalty is compatible with the pro-life position stems out of the constitutional case against abortion found in the 14th amendment.  The pertinent phrase in the constitution says, "Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."  Abortion violates this clause because it deprives the unborn of life without due process of law.  This phrase also assumes that people can be deprived of life if the due process of law is given.  Nowhere in our legal system is more care taken before a sentence is given and carried out than when it comes to death penalty cases.  It would be difficult to argue that due process is not given to those who receive the death penalty.  In the same phrase in the constitution that should protect the unborn, we see the case for the death penalty.  Life can not be taken without due process of law.  This is a double edged sword in constitutional law that simultaneously protects the unborn and provides for the death penalty.

It is quite logical for pro-lifers to support the death penalty.  The death penalty protects life by making it impossible for murderers to take another life.  The death penalty is also supported constitutionally by the same phrase that should make abortion illegal in America.  All that said, what do you think?  Am I nuts?  If you have taken the time to read this entire article, I would love to hear what you think.


Brittany said...

Very good post Willie. I think it makes perfect sense.

One way I have described the two beliefs as being compatible is this: Taking innocent life is a very different thing than taking guilty life. I think most people I have told that to get the point without having to go into too much more detail. It kind of speaks for itself. :)

Jed Estrada said...

That's great, Willie. I always tell people that I am pro-life, meaning that I hold life as the greatest value, and the taking of life as the greatest crime. Therefore, we must defend life to the utmost, and fight those who take it to the extreme.