Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Abortion, the death penalty, and the charge of hypocrisy

It is not a contradiction to support both the right to choose abortion but not the death penalty. If you believe you shouldn't kill persons without adequate moral justification, then you may support abortion because you think that fetuses aren't really persons. That is, you may think that a fetus really hasn't started its life, and therefore has no life to lose. But you may oppose the death penalty, because capital criminals have fully developed brains and know they are losing their lives. Many Democrats accept these two positions.

It can go the other way, too. Someone can believe in the death penalty because they think capital criminals deserve it. But they may also think that the fetus is a real person whose right to life has to be respected. Many Republicans are in this boat.

You may disagree with these pairs of positions, but the people who advocate them are not contradicting themselves. The death penalty issue and the abortion issue are two different questions that have to be assessed on their own merits.

1 comment:

Blue Devil Knight said...

Well put. Then there are people like me: I am for the death penalty in theory, but in practice against it and think it should be outlawed. This is because our justice system is imperfect, and one person wrongly put to death is worse than hundreds of people put in jail for life that should have been put to death (people that value life and liberty must be utterly repulsed by stories of people on death row who are later exonerated).

Reasonable doubt isn't a strong enough standard when it comes to capital cases; humans aren't morally or intellectually capable of pulling off death penalty cases without mishap. Only God would I trust, and He refuses to help out in these cases unfortunately.