CHAPTER 92 — CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
American Life League
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.
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 "inconsistent."
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 condemned.
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 very pro-abortion.
This chapter examines the pro-abortion arguments against capital punishment and presents a coherent and logical pro-life response.
Is Capital Punishment a Deterrent?
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 deterrent.
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 painless.
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 'intellectuals.'
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 occur."
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 'Racist?'
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.]
Prisoners Executed Prisoners Executed Total
for Murder for Rape Executions 
Year(s) White Black Total White Black Total White Black Total
1930-1939 803 687 1,514 10 115 125 827 816 1,667
1940-1949 458 595 1,064 19 179 200 490 781 1,284
1950-1959 316 280 601 13 89 102 336 376 717
1960-1964 79 66 145 6 22 28 90 91 181
1965-1967 8 2 10 8 2 10
1977-1980 3 3 3 3
1981 1 1 1 1
1982 1 1 2 1 1 2
1983 4 1 5 4 1 5
1984 13 8 21 13 8 21
1985 11 7 18 11 7 18
1986 11 7 18 11 7 18
1987 13 12 25 13 12 25
1988 7 4 11 7 4 11
1989 11 5 16 11 5 16
TOTALS 1,715 1,656 3,411 48 405 455 1,802 2,092 3,936
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 to 1988."
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 guidelines.
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 judgement.
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 Punishment.
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 false assertion.
Curiously, as they denounce Biblical standards, these pro-abortionists often even admit that what they are doing is murder.
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 life."
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 25:10-12.
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 doeth evil."
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 PUNISHMENT
Pro-Life Response Pro-Abortion Response
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
Capital punishment should
never be used 26% 74% 6% 94%
Capital punishment should
be used as an option
for a heinous crime 54% 46% 83% 17%
Would you serve as an
executioner? 8% 92% 22% 78%
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
ABORTION CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Innocent of any crime Convicted of heinous crime(s)
No judge Judge in charge
of all proceedings
No jury 12-person jury of peers
No trial Exhaustive, expensive trial
No stay of execution Many stays of execution;
Never produces genuine healing Sometimes produces healing in victim's
(see Chapter 45 of Volume II, families and communities
Racist in its application; At one time racist, now more closely
directed towards minorities approximates society's racial
(see Chapter 78 of Volume II, composition (see Figure 92-4)
"Racism of Abortion")
Cruel punishment of the Steps taken to insure that the
innocent (see Chapter 75 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
1970 1975 1980 1985 1990
POPULATION 631 488 714 1,591 2,327
Prisoners by Race
White 293 (46%) 218 (45%) 427 (60%) 903 (57%) 1,174 (50%)
Black 252 (40%) 198 (41%) 179 (25%) 531 (33%) 922 (40%)
Hispanic 44 (7%) 38 (8%) 61 (9%) 102 (6%) 150 (6%)
Am.Indian 14 (2%) 11 (2%) 21 (3%) 28 (2%) 38 (2%)
Asian 6 (1%) 5 (1%) 10 (1%) 11 (1%) 16 (1%)
Unknown 22 (4%) 18 (3%) 16 (2%) 16 (1%) 27 (1%)
Prisoners by Sex
Men 611 (97%) 467 (96%) 699 (98%) 1,574 (99%) 2,297 (99%)
Women 20 (3%) 21 (4%) 15 (2%) 17 (1%) 30 (1%)
Prisoners by Age
<20 Years Old 7 9 8 11 13
20-54 Years Old 603 461 694 693 1,547
55+ Years Old 21 18 12 10 31
Prisoners by Education
<than 8 Years 44 56 60 68 147
8-12 Years 503 333 528 440 1,082
12+ Years 18 21 35 43 127
Unknown 66 78 91 163 235
Time On Death Row
<than 1 Year 135 102 135 185 273
1 to 4 Years 168 118 273 389 739
4 to 6 Years 181 97 202 102 303
6+ Years 147 171 104 38 276
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 Viewpoints.
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.
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This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.