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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Abortion and the Death Penalty

Recently, as I was taking in a bit of talk radio (Sean Hannity), I heard a discussion of a comment made by Senator Barak Obama on the topic of abortion. A tape was played, and Senator Obama was heard saying, “Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old—I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” What an unbelievable, uncaring, uninformed, and undeniably stupid thing to say; and this coming from the man whose speeches supposedly cause people to swoon and faint. It just goes to show you how almost indefensible abortion is.

However, I’m very sad to report, Obama’s comments were not the only ones to make my skin crawl. The only people who sounded dumber than Obama were those trying to defend what he said. One such caller went into how hypocritical many pro-lifers are by opposing abortion while supporting the death penalty. He went on to use President Bush as his chief example of said hypocrisy. While Governor of Texas, the caller pointed out, Bush oversaw the execution of 150 people. “Many of those might have been innocent,” he added, while also pointing out that, “abortion is the law.”

The host, Hannity, I’m also sad to report, did a poor job of pointing out the weaknesses in the callers’ logic.

First of all, there are only “claims” of and “compelling evidence” for people being innocently executed in the U.S. In a 5 to 4 decision in 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kansas v. Marsh, upheld the constitutionality of theKansas death penalty law. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted in his concurring opinion, “the dissent does not discuss a single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops by the abolition lobby.”

In 1987, Professors Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet claimed 23 wrongful executions had taken place in the U.S. from 1900 to 1986. In October of 2000 The Boston Globe reported that, “The American system of capital punishment has taken the lives of 16 men despite ‘compelling evidence of their innocence,’ according to a report by death penalty foes scheduled to be released Thursday.”

The vast majority of executed individuals in the U.S. have been “guilty as sin,” as my mother would say, usually of very heinous crimes. Of course one innocent person being executed is too many, but contrast the handful of those who were “perhaps” innocent with the nearly 50 million undoubtedly innocent children who have died in the womb since 1973, the vast majority because they were simply not convenient for someone (or perhaps someone viewed them as a “punishment.”)

The caller mentioned earlier cried hypocrisy toward people who are anti-abortion but pro-death penalty. However, the height of hypocrisy is someone who claims “the death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights,” as does Amnesty International U.S.A., but then pledges to, “defend women's access to abortion,” as Amnesty did in the spring of 2007. And, of course, this is the stance of many on the more “liberal” side of life and politics.

A further example of this hypocrisy is the fact that many states are doing away with the death penalty but eagerly support abortion on demand. States like Illinois, North Carolina, New York, and Nebraska currently have some sort of moratorium on capital punishment, while states like New Jersey are doing away with it altogether. Because of the “chance” that someone innocent might be executed, mass murderers get to live out their days at the expense of the taxpaying citizens of those states; yet with the guarantee that many thousands will innocently be killed in the womb, some politicians even seek to use taxpayer money to fund abortions in this country and the world over.

Execution of murderers and their like has been around since time immemorial. After departing the Ark, Scripture records God telling Noah that, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed. For in the image of God has God made man.” In other words, life is precious, and those who murder are to be held accountable with their own lives.

Thirty-seven states (as well as the U.S. government and the U.S. military), still have the death penalty as “law.” These death penalty laws are passed by state legislatures, signed by governors, and supported by state and federal constitutions. Contrast that with how the “law” supports abortion today. Prior to the dreadful 1973 Roe v. Wade decision 33 states had laws against abortion except when needed to save the life of the mother. Twelve other states had laws that allowed abortion only in cases of rape, fetal deformity, or to protect the life/health of the mother. A ruling by seven unelected judges changed all of that and what had been the will of the people for centuries was cast aside.

The book of Isaiah says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” What a sad indictment on our nation that so many of our citizens (and politicians) seek to protect those who are guilty of the worst of crimes, while turning a blind eye to the death of the most innocent and helpless among us.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

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