I have never understood how people reconcile being anti-death penalty and yet allow the killing of a child or how other folks claim pro-life beliefs and yet support the state taking a human life through the death penalty. Based on the title to this post it should be obvious that I am pro-life and anti-death penalty. This does not make me a pacifist because I do believe that everyone should be able to protect and defend themselves, but I feel that is very different from state sanctioned murder.
I have always found the phrase “pro-choice” to be an incredibly misleading but brilliant piece of propaganda. After all, the child does not get the choice, the father does not get the choice – the right to decide between the life and death of the child is left solely to the mother. Luckily I never found myself in the position of having someone I love unilaterally make the decision to kill one of my babies, but I honestly don’t know how I would have coped with the emotions that would flow from the murder of my child.
In 1992 on the campaign trail Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” and President Obama echoed those sentiments recently. With more than 55,000,000 abortions performed since the adoption of Roe V. Wade, I find it difficult for anyone to argue with a straight face that abortions are “rare.” The classic line for a pro-choice politician is to say that you don’t personally believe abortion is acceptable, but don’t believe that you should force that belief on anyone else.
Just like belief about war and personal defense, I think that there are rare cases in which medical necessity does require life and death decisions to be made such as when the mother’s life is endangered. I find rape more troubling because while I understand a woman’s desire to put a violent and heinous act perpetrated against her behind her, I also recognize that the baby created through that act did nothing wrong and is blameless. States which have granted rapists parental rights against the wishes of their victims have made this a deeply troubling conundrum for me. While abortion in the case of medical necessity (less than 1%) and rape or incest (1-2%) are really a tiny, tiny fraction of the total number of abortions they are the first things that “pro-choice” forces point to when engaging in the debate and the far right has lost credibility by refusing to engage in even the discussion.
The truth is that the vast majority of abortions, about 97%, are neither medically necessary nor the result of rape of incest but rather used as a means of contraception. This does NOT mean that 97% of women are using abortion as the primary means of birth control, in fact slightly more than half of all abortions are conducted after the primary method of birth control fails. But the truth is that abortion has become to be viewed and expressed in the media as nothing more than a simple “medical procedure” when the truth is that it is the taking of a life.
I don’t feel any differently about the death penalty. The studies are legion about the lack of the death penalty as a deterrent to murder and with the delays and repeated appeals in our current system people always have to be reminded about the crimes that led to an execution when they take place. I don’t find any justifiable reason for the death penalty and don’t believe the government should with cold calculation choose to take a life as punishment. I find confusing the agonizing machinations over whether hanging or shooting or stoning or electrocution or lethal injection is cruel and unusual when they all result in death at the hands of the state.
Ironically, the vast majority of those placed on death row die of natural causes so it actually also is rarely actually carried out. On top of all of this, we spend millions of dollars each year on death row prisoners to pay for lawyers and courts and special services all to keep the prisoner alive long enough so that the government can kill them. I just don’t get it.