Pro-Lifers and the Death Penalty

One of GFL’s readers recently raised a question about the Pro-Life view on the issue of the death penalty. While the Pro-Life movement includes issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research, it does not specifically address the death penalty. In reality, the issues of abortion and the death penalty operate on completely different grounds. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being under the belief that they are valueless and have no personhood. The death penalty punishes a criminal by taking the most valuable and important thing they have – their life. That being said, however, there is no reason why the views held by the Pro-Life movement cannot be carried over in order to reach a decision as to the morality of the death penalty. The most basic point to remember is that all human life has inherent and intrinsic value. So really… it’s hard to justify killing anyone, not matter what the circumstances are. In keeping with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the state may morally use the death penalty ONLY if there is no other possible way of protecting human lives from the unjust aggressor. If sufficient means such as life-imprisonment exist, they should be used instead of capital punishment. To quote from the Catechism directly,

“The cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Years ago, before the advent of technology, the death penalty was needed to keep dangerous criminals at bay. Nowadays, with the exception of some third-world countries, there is no need for the death penalty to protect society. Because of the security of our modern prisons and life sentences, the death penalty does not accomplish anything other than revenge. Even if the criminal deserves to die, are we not stooping to his level, by resorting to the inhumane? Killing a criminal will not bring the victim back to life. No “justice” is accomplished. And what about the innocent people mistakenly sentenced and put to death? Where is the justice for them? Even if one innocent person were to be wrongfully executed, I believe that that is one too many. It therefore follows, that anyone who is pro-life should oppose the use of the death penalty. Pro-Life means Pro-Life. Life begins at conception and ends with natural death.

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