“I dream of a world where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction.” This quote by Benazir Bhutto was said in a pro-life speech, but it is important to note that it can also relate just as much to ending capital punishment. True, the abortion abolitionists have almost coined the term pro-life to the extent that their cause is the first, and in most cases the only thought that comes to people’s minds when they hear this phrase, but it is important to think critically about everything that being “pro-life” encompasses.
It is difficult to imagine justifying that one is pro-life, yet is in favor of the death penalty; this goes against the very definition of the term. Arguments are raised comparing the innocence of the unborn to the guilt of the inmates on death row, but we must keep in mind that the prisoners would still face grave repercussions for their unlawful actions, without the actual taking of their lives. In no way are they acquitted or pardoned of their crimes; their punishment will simply take a different, more humane route. It is also important to note the very real possibility of the inmate on death row being innocent. Since 1973, 139 people who were on death row have been found innocent and were exonerated. In addition to that, there are several instances of people who have already been killed through capital punishment who now have strong evidence to prove their innocence. It is for these reasons, that when we claim our staunch stance of being pro-life we should not pick and choose the situations for when we hold true to this statement, but rather embrace all of the cases for which it can be applied.
With the presidential race quickly approaching and the primaries on our doorsteps, we should take a minute to review what the candidates believe regarding capital punishment being pro-life, at least in the more well-known connotation of the term. The general Republican consensus is “pro-life”, so much so that a handful of the population votes Republican solely for this reason alone. Out of the candidates running for the Republican nomination, it is important to note that Fred Karger is against government interference on the matter, and Mitt Romney recently changed to the pro-life stance, but the rest have all always sided for pro-life.
Regarding their feelings on the death penalty, only Ron Paul is staunchly against it based on the possible innocence factor, and Rick Santorum avoids the subject, but seems divided. In fact, Rick Perry has proudly issued the “ultimate justice” as he says to 234 Texans during his term as governor and says he has no qualms about whether or not they were innocent. It is astounding how a party can be known for being “pro-life”, yet the majority of the candidates support and, in some cases, even push laws through in favor of capital punishment. Furthermore, as the world saw with the infamous Troy Davis travesty, President Barack Obama tries to avoid the issue of capital punishment altogether, and as witnessed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, his health care reform bill, he is clearly not pro-life either.
Whoever ends up winning the Republican nomination, or even the presidency, an important thing to know is that upholding or abolishing the death penalty is the decision of the individual states. It is for this reason that in order to get this irreversible punishment abolished, we must write to our own state representative and express our opinions, thoughts, and criticisms on the subject. To find your own Pennsylvanian representative to write to, you can visit this website and see who represents your county.