If the deliberate extinguishment of human life has any effect at
all, it more likely tends to lower our respect for life and brutalize
Supreme Court Justice William Brennan,
architect of Roe v. Wade, writing against capital punishment in Furman
v. Georgia (1972).
The killing of a human being can never be justified, even under the
most extreme circumstances. Capital punishment is unworkable, racist,
cruel, and unusual, and unreliable as well: At least half of all the
people who are executed are innocent.
Anti-choice people are inconsistent and hypocritical in many areas,
but the most glaring example of this hypocrisy is that they
wholeheartedly support the execution of real human beings, while
defending mere potentialities.
Pro-abortionists link the issues of abortion and capital punishment
over and over again in debates, literature, and propaganda campaigns.
Their goal is to try to make pro-life activists look
And we all know that inconsistency is the ultimate Neoliberal sin.
In reality, of course, it is the pro-aborts who are being
inconsistent. While fully supporting the slaughter of more than a
million and a half innocent preborn babies annually, pro-abortionists
feign concern for the handful of guilty murderers who are put to death
in this country every year. They whine that capital punishment is an
ineffective deterrent, that it is racist, that it is "cruel and
unusual," and that it should be banned based upon the mere fact
that there might be a slim possibility that an innocent man might be
The classic example of this amazingly hypocritical double standard
was given to us by Supreme Court Associate Justice William Brennan in
his written opinion in the Furman case, as shown above.
Another prominent pro-abortionist, syndicated social issues columnist
Coretta Scott King, expertly summarized the pro-abortion double standard
in her May 24, 1989 column, without the slightest sense of irony;
"Capital punishment is racist in its application ... it should be
banned because it makes irrevocable any possible miscarriage of justice
... the lives of innocent people are threatened by capital punishment
... it can never produce genuine healing ... allowing the state to kill
its own citizens diminishes our humanity."
Now, merely substitute the word "abortion" for the words
"capital punishment," and you will have a very good summary of
the pro-life philosophy.
Strangely, King and most other vocal capital punishment opponents are
This chapter examines the pro-abortion arguments against capital
punishment and presents a coherent and logical pro-life response.
Is Capital Punishment a
It is probably true that capital punishment, as it is currently
applied in this country, is not a deterrent. All we need do is look
at the statistics.
Each year, about 25,000 murders are committed in this country, while
an average of a dozen men die in the electric chair or gas chambers
annually. This means that a murderer has about a one in 2,000 chance of
being caught, tried, convicted, and executed for his crime. Overall, a
death row inmate has only a 1.4 percent chance of being executed during
the remainder of his life.
This is about equal to the chance that an innocent citizen will be
murdered during his or her lifetime.
For all intents and purposes, this is a negligible risk for
murderers, and naturally does not present a great deterrent effect.
However, if everyone in society knew for a fact that they would
swiftly pay with their lives if they killed someone else, there would be
very little murder in this country today! In some Middle Eastern
countries, where a murderer can expect to be executed for his
crime, the homicide rate is less than ten percent that of the
United States. This difference is partially due to societal and
religious influences, but the presence of a swiftly and certainly
administered death penalty cannot help but serve as a profound
On the other side of the coin, nobody can prove that capital
punishment does not deter crime, because nobody can prove a
negative. We can only analyze existing data and current trends.
Why Capital Punishment?
In reality, mass murderers and serial killers like Ted Bundy are not
executed as payment for their crimes, because their deaths could not
begin to repay the horror and suffering they have caused.
These murderers are executed because of the violence they have done
to the virtue of justice. Society must eliminate its worst elements, or
by tolerating them it will itself fall into disrepair.
This kind of 'indirect deterrent' is aimed not at individuals, but at
the public 'mind' as an entity. The message is simple: Value human life
and treat it as the highest good. Those who do not observe this
paramount rule will have society show its disapproval by meting out the
strictest punishment possible under the laws applicable at the time.
Is Capital Punishment
'Cruel and Unusual?'
Unusual, Maybe But So What?
The death penalty is certainly not "unusual," since
virtually every nation since Christ has used it to one extent or
another. A more proper term would be "rare," since less than
15 people are put to death in our country every year.
To put this into perspective, a person's chances of being struck and
killed by lightning are more than four times greater than being put to
death by the State.
Even if we were to accept that the death penalty is
"unusual," so what? The mere labeling of something as
"unusual" is meaningless, because such a description is purely
neutral. In fact, some Neoliberals use the quality of being different as
a positive good one example being the homosexual's
"celebrate diversity" slogan.
There is no doubt that the death penalty has been extremely
"cruel" in the past. Many countries drowned or burned or
tortured those people who were sentenced to death.
As far as twentieth century methods are concerned, anyone who has
seen a videotape of an electric-chair execution will be convinced on the
spot that this particular form of death is cruel in the extreme.
However, death does not have to be cruel, as the pro-euthanasia
people like to say. For example, the most painless death imaginable
would be execution by lethal injection. In fact, the Hemlock Society and
anti-euthanasia groups have estimated that doctors have surreptitiously
put hundreds or even thousands of people to 'sleep' in this manner. And
these are innocent people. Why not use this identical painless
method of execution for the guilty?
Of course, anticipation can be agony, especially when your own life
hangs in the balance. We may logically argue that a greater cruelty than
death itself is the agony involved in waiting for months or years on
death row in anticipation of execution. Most people would probably agree
that months of anticipation of death is far worse than the process of
death itself, particularly if this process is rendered completely
Other Considerations on Cruelty.
We have not mentioned the hideous tortures that many murderers have
inflicted upon their helpless victims. If these murderers are so free to
torture and kill their victims, why should they be spared death by far
more humane means?
The opponents of capital punishment also seem to forget the extreme
danger to their fellow inmates that convicted murderers pose. What does
a man with nothing to lose care about another person's life? All the
authorities can do to them is give them yet another life (or death)
sentence. The rate of murder in prisons in one hundred times that of the
population as a whole. It would therefore be logical to remove violent
criminals on death row permanently, otherwise they might inflict their
own version of cruel and painful capital punishment on those inmates
around them, often for the most trivial of reasons.
But increased risk to the surrounding population has never been a
great concern of the average Neoliberal.
After Norman Mailer (founder of People for the American Way) and
other New York City intellectuals lobbied to get psychopathic convicted
murderer Jack Abbott released from prison, he promptly killed a waiter,
leaving a young widow and four little children. Mailer, upon being
questioned on his position after this brutal murder, callously replied
that "Art is worth a little risk."
One must speculate what his response would have been if Abbott had
slaughtered some of Mailer's own family members or a few of his fellow
But It's My Body ...
As always, Neoliberals (and, in particular, abortionists and their
toadies) are mired in a self-created sticky swamp of inconsistency.
The same people who push so hard for abortion and euthanasia under
the rationale that "people ought to be able to control their own
bodies" vigorously oppose even the execution of those few inmates
who want to be put to death.
There have been dozens of instances of such interference by
anti-death penalty groups, who curiously are uniformly pro-abortion.
Oregon killer James Isom steadfastly said that he preferred death to
life in prison until September 1992, but anti-death penalty groups did
not want him to have control over his own body. Terry Wright, spokesman
for the Oregon Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, alleged that
"We certainly are concerned about Mr. Isom's wishes. We just don't
feel as a coalition that we can sit by and let this execution
The same situation occurred almost simultaneously in Oregon's
neighboring state Washington, where convicted child molester and killer
Westley Alan Dodd urged his attorneys to use whatever means were
available to hasten his own execution.
Teresa Mathis of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death
Penalty, whose organization fought long and hard against Dodd's
execution, said flatly that "It doesn't matter whether this person
wants to die or not. We don't think it's the right thing to do."
Invoking the tired idea that any 'crime' committed by society makes
everyone in that society guilty of the 'crime,' she simpered that
"I'm not willing to be a killer." It makes one curious as
to whether or not Mathis thinks that she is a killer of unborn babies
(an abortionist), since Washington State pays for thousands of free
abortions each year.
Is Capital Punishment
One of the most popular arguments used against the death penalty is
that it is a 'racist institution' meaning that a disproportionately high
number of Black people eventually are executed for their crimes.
The worst disparities in executions among the races occurred during
the decade of the 1940s. During the ten-year period 1940 to 1949, there
were 1,284 executions, and nearly two-thirds of those executed (61%, or
781) were Black men, as shown in Figure 92-1.
PRISONERS EXECUTED IN THE UNITED STATES, 1930 TO 1985
[A medium text size on your computer's 'view'
setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]
Black Total White
Black Total White Black Total
827 816 1,667
490 781 1,284
336 376 717
Note.  Total executions includes those performed for offenses
other than murder and rape. These are 25 for armed robbery, 20 for
kidnapping, 11 for burglary, 8 for espionage, and 6 for aggravated
assault. The above figures do not include 160 executions carried out
by the Army and Air Force: 106 for murder, 53 for rape, and 1 for
desertion. The total executions by category include races other than
black or white.
Reference. United States Department of
Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to
Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. Washington,
DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1990 (110th Edition), 991
pages. Table 332, "Prisoners Executed Under Civil Authority: 1930
The Supreme Court Acts.
In 1972, the United States Supreme Court's Furman v. Georgia
decision held that the death penalty had been applied "arbitrarily
and capriciously," and banned it completely. In response, many
states rewrote their death penalty statutes and in 1976, the Supreme
Court cleared the way for executions to take place under much stricter
But the Allegations Remain.
Rather than examine and analyze the statistics, opponents of the
death penalty continue to insist that it is blatantly racist. In fact,
some of those who oppose the death penalty see no problem with lying
about or manipulating the facts. For example, Congressman John Conyers
stated in the July 1, 1985 New York Times that "The chances
of being executed are three to ten times greater for killing a white
person than a black person."
Many people who are opposed to the death penalty paint a lurid
picture of an epidemic of Whites killing Blacks. This ploy is part of
the 'victim' strategy, which is a blatant play for sympathy. In other
words, if the facts don't support their position (and they don't),
anti-death penalty activists will try to gain sympathy for their
position by lying about the facts.
Analysis of the Statistics.
To begin with, there is no impending 'race war' taking place in the
United States. The vast majority of murder victims are killed by someone
of their own race. For example, in 1983, 94 percent of Black murder
victims were killed by Blacks and 88 percent of White murder victims
were killed by Whites.
Although Neoliberal death penalty opponents would like to ignore the
facts and figures that do not suit their preconceptions, in 1983, 245
Blacks were killed by Whites, and 592 Whites were killed by Blacks.
Since Black people make up only 13 percent of the population and Whites
75 percent, this means that Blacks are (592/0.13)/(245/0.75) = 14 times
more likely to kill Whites than vice-versa.
So the media's artificially-manufactured specter of hordes of Whites
beating up Black people with ax handles is a myth.
As shown in Figure 92-1, of the 120 people who were executed during
the time period 1976 to 1989, 75 were White and 45 were Black. This
means that 38 percent of all prisoners who were executed during this
time period were Black while Blacks make up only 12 percent of the
population, suggesting that inequality still exists.
However, this type of analysis is simplistic in the extreme. We must
examine the statistics more closely in order to make a reasoned
During the period 1976 to 1989, 35 percent of those arrested for
murder and intentional homicide were White, and 50 percent were Black
(15 percent were from other races).
While Whites account for 35 percent of all those arrested for murder,
they accounted for 62 percent of all executions over the time period
1976 to 1989. Blacks accounted for 50 percent of all murders during this
period, but only 38 percent of all executions. This means that a White
man arrested for murder or intentional homicide was (62/35)/(38/50) =
2.33 times more likely to be executed than a Black man.
This means that the system of capital punishment in the United States
is racist, all right since 1976, it discriminates against Whites!
Scripture on Capital
More Pro-Abortion Hypocrisy.
Many pro-abortion activists claim that their heinous activities are
justified because "abortion is not explicitly mentioned in the
Bible." Bogus religious groups like 'Catholics' for a Free Choice
and the 'Religious' Coalition for Abortion Rights lean heavily on this
Curiously, as they denounce Biblical standards, these
pro-abortionists often even admit that what they are doing is
Magda Denes, an expert on abortion, confesses that "I do think
abortion is murder of a very special and necessary sort. What else would
one call the deliberate stilling of a life? And no physician involved
with the procedure ever kids himself about that ... legalistic
distinctions among "homicide," "justified homicide,"
"self-defense," and "murder" appear to me a semantic
game. What difference does it make what we call it? Those who do it and
those who witness its doing know that abortion is the stilling of a
And Norman Mailer, founder of People for the 'American' Way, is
certainly honest in his attitude towards the preborn; "Let me say
something that's shocking. I am perfectly willing to grant that life
starts at conception. If a woman doesn't want to have a child, then I
think it's her right to say no. But let's not pretend that it isn't a
form of killing."
Strangely, these same people are also mostly opposed to capital
punishment of guilty murderers, but seem to ignore the fact that the
Bible has many passages supporting the practice.
This inconsistency is entirely typical of pro-abortionists: They lean
on the Bible only when it allegedly supports their position, but
unhesitatingly reject it when it condemns their activities or does not
agree with them.
The Bible Speaks.
In the very first book of the Bible, God established the death
penalty for murder in Noah's days and also established the civil
authority to enforce it (Genesis 9:4-6).
In the same chapter of Genesis, God extended the use of the death
penalty to all generations (Genesis 9:12).
Capital punishment is reaffirmed many times in the Bible (Exodus
21:12-15; Leviticus 24:17-21, Numbers 35:9-34; and Deuteronomy 21:1-9).
Paul recognizes the need for the death penalty in serious cases in Acts
Scripture also tells us that the only way to cleanse the land is
capital punishment of those who do murder (Numbers 35:33-34). Those
nations that fail to enforce capital punishment will be judged harshly
(Jeremiah 2:34-27, and Hosiah 1:4;4:1-5).
The nation that refuses to avenge the taking of innocent human life
shall share the guilt of the murderer (Deuteronomy 21:7-8).
Our country should pay special attention to these last several
passages; instead of cleansing the land of abortionists and
euthanasiasts, our government is paying them and protecting
them with its court systems and police forces.
The Catholic Position.
The Position of the USCC. In 1974 and 1978, the United States
Catholic Conference outlined its firm opposition to capital punishment
"... in the belief that a return to the death penalty can only lead
to a further erosion of respect for life in our society."
Analysis of the USCC Position. The assertion that capital
punishment adds to a "further erosion of respect for life in our
society" echoes the statement made by Roe v. Wade author
William Brennan as he wrote against capital punishment in Furman v.
Georgia, when he said that "If the deliberate extinguishment of
human life has any effect at all, it more likely tends to lower our
respect for life and brutalize our values."
It is hard to imagine how the execution of a dozen mass murderers
each year can lead to any further "erosion of respect for life in
our society" when abortionists and judges freely admit that they
are involved in 'state-sanctioned killing' of certain classes of human
beings (the preborn); when polls show that a significant percentage of
Americans approve of legalized assisted suicide by lethal injection; and
when a flood of films, books, and even video games glorify the most
explicit violence imaginable.
In a society saturated with sex and murder, it is almost ludicrous to
suggest that the killing of a handful of obviously guilty murderers can
further erode the general 'respect for human life.'
In any case, whether anti- or pro-abortion, the average member of the
public is aware of the difference between an innocent child and a
convicted serial killer. The act of killing mass murderers is perceived
as justice, not murder.
The USCC Against the Vatican.
The United States Catholic Conference has made statements in direct
contradiction to the directives of the Vatican in many areas of ethics
and morality. Regarding the death penalty, the USCC has gone so far as
to suggest that Catholics cannot in good conscience vote for a ballot
measure approving capital punishment.
This is not the case. Consider the formal address of Pope Pius XII to
the First International Congress of Histopathologists of the Nervous
System at Rome on September 14, 1952; "Even when it is the question
of the execution of a man condemned to death, the State does not dispose
of the individual's right to live. It is then reserved for the public
power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of
his fault, when already, by his crime, he has dispossessed himself of
the right to life."
Pope Pius had merely paraphrased Romans 13:4, which holds that;
"For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do
that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for
he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that
Once again, the Neoliberals are trying to confuse Catholics on the
issue of capital punishment, just as they have attempted to confuse them
on the abortion issue. Some 'progressives' even try to misquote St.
Thomas Aquinas, alleging that he opposed the death penalty. Once again,
they are telling only half the truth.
St. Thomas, in his Summa Theologica (2a2ae.64,2) states that
suicide and vengeance killing (De Homicidio) by individuals is
never permissible; such vengeance is reserved to the government.
Who Is Really 'Pro-Life?'
One of the favorite slogans of the pro-abortion movement is that
pro-lifers are inconsistent (the most deadly Neoliberal sin), because
they favor the death penalty.
Dr. Paul Cameron's interesting 1984 study shows that few pro-lifers
really do believe in the death penalty, but that pro-aborts are
being consistent in that they favor death for the born as well as
the unborn, and the innocent as well as the guilty,
as shown in Figure 92-2.
COMPARISON OF PRO-LIFE AND PRO-ABORTION ATTITUDES TOWARDS CAPITAL
Capital punishment should
Capital punishment should
be used as an option
for a heinous
Would you serve as an
Reference. Paul Cameron, Ph.D. Study
described in J.C. Willke. "Capital Punishment." National
Right to Life News, August 8, 1985, page 3.
The vivid differences between capital punishment for the preborn and
capital punishment for adult murderers are shown in Figure 92-3.
Statistics on death-row inmates and actual executions in this country
over the last sixty years are shown in Figures 92-1 and 92-4.
SIMILARITIES AND CONTRASTS BETWEEN ABORTION AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Innocent of any
Convicted of heinous crime(s)
Judge in charge
of all proceedings
12-person jury of peers
Exhaustive, expensive trial
No stay of
Many stays of execution;
Never produces genuine
Sometimes produces healing in victim's
(see Chapter 45 of Volume
families and communities
Racist in its
At one time racist, now more closely
approximates society's racial
(see Chapter 78 of Volume
composition (see Figure 92-4)
"Racism of Abortion")
Cruel punishment of
Steps taken to insure that the
innocent (see Chapter
condemned do not suffer pain
of Volume II, "Fetal Pain")
Diminishes society's humanity
Precursor to euthanasia
Definitely diminishes respect
for the sanctity of human life
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE UNITED STATES DEATH ROW POPULATION, 1970 TO 1990
Prisoners by Race
293 (46%) 218 (45%) 427 (60%) 903
(57%) 1,174 (50%)
252 (40%) 198 (41%) 179 (25%)
531 (33%) 922 (40%)
44 (7%) 38
(8%) 61 (9%)
102 (6%) 150 (6%)
14 (2%) 11
(2%) 38 (2%)
6 (1%) 5
(1%) 16 (1%)
22 (4%) 18
(1%) 27 (1%)
Prisoners by Sex
611 (97%) 467 (96%) 699 (98%) 1,574
(99%) 2,297 (99%)
20 (3%) 21
(1%) 30 (1%)
Prisoners by Age
20-54 Years Old
55+ Years Old
Prisoners by Education
Time On Death Row
1 to 4
4 to 6
References. (1) United States
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and
Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States.
Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1990 (110th
Edition), 991 pages. Table 330, "Prisoners Under Sentence of Death:
1980 to 1988." (2) Kathryn Kahler, Newhouse News Service. "A
Matter of Life and Death: Legal Counsel Questioned." The Oregonian,
May 15, 1990, page A2.
References: Capital Punishment.
 National Geographic Society. Nature On the Rampage.
1986, 200 pages. Special Publications Division, National Geographic
Society, Washington, D.C. Page 130 of this publication notes that 1,154
persons were killed by lightning during the 15-year period 1970 to 1984.
The chances of being killed when struck are about one in three, resulting
in an average number of 230 persons being struck by lightning every year,
and 77 being killed annually.
 George Sim. "Norman Mailer and God." National
Catholic Register, December 7, 1989, page 5.
 G.B. Veerman. "Public Interest." Willamette
Week [Portland, Oregon], September 3-September 9, 1992, page 9.
 Teresa Mathis of the Washington Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty, speaking of Wesley Alan Dodd, quoted in Marcia Wolf.
"Dodd's Death Watch Begins." The Columbian [Vancouver,
Washington], December 1, 1992, page A3. Mathis was also quoted on Channel
2 News (10:00 PM Edition), Thursday, October 7, 1992.
 Lawrence W. Johnson. "The Executioner's
Bias." National Review, November 15, 1985, page 44.
 United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the
Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract
of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). United States Government
Printing Office. Table 12, "Total Population, By Sex, Race, and Age:
1988;" Table 15, "Projections of the Hispanic Population By Age
and Sex: 1989 to 2010;" and Table 16, "Projections of Total
Population, By Race: 1989 to 2025."
 Magda Denes. "Performing Abortions." Commentary
Magazine, October 1976, pages 33 to 37. A truly frightening and profoundly
sickening article by a doctor who observes and describes in graphic detail
a number of saline abortions and their results. She acknowledges that
abortion is killing, but a type of "necessary" killing. Also see
the "Letters" sections in the December 1976 and February 1977
issues of Commentary Magazine.
 Norman Mailer on the David Frost Show. Quoted in
"Norman Mailer Speaks Out on Sex and AIDS." American Family
Association Journal, March 1992, page 3.
 Paul Cameron, Ph.D. Study described in J.C. Willke.
"Capital Punishment." National Right to Life News, August
8, 1985, page 3.
Further Reading: Capital Punishment.
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Consistent Ethic of Life.
Sheed & Ward, 115 East Armour Boulevard, Post Office Box 419492,
Kansas City, Missouri 64141, telephone: 1-800-333-7373. 1988, 287 pages.
This book consists of three parts: (1) The texts of 10 addresses by
Cardinal Bernardin, the originator of the "seamless garment"
theory. This series of addresses considers the topics of genetic
engineering, abortion, modern welfare, the terminally ill, and capital
punishment; (2) symposium papers by several authors on the "seamless
garment," including renegade Jesuit Richard A. McCormick and Sidney
Callahan; and (3) and the Cardinal's response to the symposium.
Greenhaven Press. The Death Penalty: Opposing
Greenhaven Press Opposing Viewpoints Series, Post Office Box 289009, San
Diego, California 92128-9009. 1986, 175 pages. Each section includes
several essays by leading authorities on both sides of each issue. The
questions asked are: "Three Centuries of Debate on the Death
Penalty.;" "Is the Death Penalty Immoral?;" "Does the
Death Penalty Deter Murder?;" and "Should the Death Penalty Be
Used for Political Crimes?" Authors include Clarence Darrow, Horace
Greeley, and Ernest van den Haag. A catalog is available from the above
address and can be obtained by calling 1-(800) 231-5163.
© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111
This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s
Encyclopedia published by American Life League.