Challenge: You’re Not Really Pro-Life

Posted: July 19, 2011 by Amy Hall in Do the Right Thing, Weekly Challenge

This week’s challenge is one that comes up when talking about abortion:

You people keep telling us that killing fetuses is wrong—that you’re “pro-life,” but then you turn around and say you’re for the death penalty! That’s completely inconsistent, so how can I take you seriously?

Whether you’re for or against the death penalty, we’d love to hear how you would respond. Then stick around until Thursday to hear Alan’s thoughts on the challenge and your comments.

  1. That’s standard discussion fare when pro-choice folk debate those who call themselves “pro-life”.

    I don’t like the “pro-life” moniker. It confuses the issue, even though I’m not a true supporter of the death penalty. (Most “Christians” support the death penalty because they believe it’s in the Bible. It is, but it was a Jewish law that is not commanded to modern governments in any fashion.)

    I call myself anti-abortion. “Pro-life” doesn’t isolate the issue. When I’m discussing abortion, I want to talk about abortion, not be confused by pushisments for crimes. Calling myself “pro-life” leaves a big door for this very challenge, even though I’m more anti-capital punishment than most “pro-lifers”.

    Capital punishment is an entirely different issue. I’d like to abolish the term pro-life entirely.

  2. I missed subscribing to comments, so this comment is just for that purpose…

  3. IF the Christian also supports the death penalty, he thinks it’s morally permissible because the criminal did something wrong. He’s not innocent. The unborn, however, is innocent.

  4. Being pro-life comes down to an issue of justice in both the case of abortion and the death penalty. When the accuser in this challenge tries to raise an apparent contradiction, what they are assuming is that someone who is for the death penalty is essentially “pro-death.” Then, in juxtaposing the term “pro-life” with the idea that you are also “pro-death”, they dismiss your perspective. I’m not great with technical debate terms, but I think this is a sort of straw man. They have raised a false argument or an apparent false contradiction and then used that false conclusion to dismiss the “pro-life” person’s stance.

    In terms of an unborn baby, we have innocent human beings, defenseless and unable to care for themselves. It is unjust to kill innocent human beings at any age. We are “pro-life” in the sense that all life deserves justice, in this case, the right to life. In regards to the death penalty, it is also an issue of justice. People don’t get the death penalty unless they have taken the life of another innocent human being. A murdered has deprived the innocent person of the right to live, just like in the case of abortion. Thus, they are getting justice for what they have done when their right to live is taken away. Being for the death penalty is not being “pro-death” of the guilty criminal, it is being “pro-life” for the justice of the innocent person who was murdered.

    In summary,

    For abortion: Pro-life means you are for the justice of the innocent, unborn baby who has the right to live and it is unjust to take that right away.

    For the death penalty: Pro-life means you are for the justice of the innocent, murdered victim who had the right to live taken away from them and it is just to see that the person who took their life has their right to live taken away as well.

    In both cases, pro-life means that you are for justice of the innocent party, there is no contradiction or inconsistency.

  5. Philip Motes says:

    First of all, the most important thing is not that the person takes ME seriously, but that they take my ARGUMENT seriously, because it stands or falls on its own merits. Even if I am inconsistent, my argument against abortion could still be sound, so the person needs to deal with the argument proper, rather than attack me for being inconsistent. Secondly, if the person is accusing me of being inconsistent for being against elective abortion but for the death penalty, then they must be assuming that there is a parallel between the two. But, what would that parallel be? Interestingly, the parallel we should be happy to grant is that both cases involve the killing of a human being. So, the person who raises this objection is actually conceding an essential part of the pro-life argument- namely, the full humanity of the fetus.

    I do think we can argue against this charge of inconsistency, however, in the following way. We need to reemphasize the important clarifications in our argument. The argument against elective abortion says, it is wrong to take the life of a human being WITHOUT PROPER JUSTIFICATION; elective abortion takes the life of a human being without proper justification; therefore, elective abortion is wrong. In the case of the death penalty, we can point out our consistency by arguing something like this: It is morally permissible to take the life of a human being WITH PROPER JUSTIFICATION; the death penalty takes the life of a human being with proper justification; therefore, the death penalty is morally permissible. It is this aspect of justification where the parallel between elective abortion and the death penalty really falls off and the charge of inconsistency in our position is unwarranted.

  6. Adrian Urias says:

    Yeah, I’m pro life. Innocent life. Im not pro guilty life. Romans talks about the government being a tool for God to execute justice. There is no justice in killing the innocent unborn.

  7. Karen says:

    I would reply this way: I am for life. While a person who has received the death penalty has had their day in court, convicted to death by a jury of their peers, and many appeal attempts before actually being put to death, a baby who is aborted does not have those options. So to be fair to both of our sides, something needs to change to equalize the situation.

    Either we allow jury trials for a baby in vitro who is about to be sentenced to death, with the appropriate appeals, or we adjust the law for those who are on death row to be killed because it is convenient to the victim, family of the victim and society at large.

  8. bobby says:

    the majority of people who are for abortion are also against the death penalty dosent that make them inconsistent as well the sword cuts both ways

  9. bobby says:

    ohhh and another thing i forgot to mention if someone were to ask me as a pro-lifer my view on the death penalty i was ask them a question i would say ” well i think innocent people should be treated differently from gulity people how about you”

  10. I would ask the person what do they mean by pro-life. It is a specific term relating to the Christian’s stance on abortion and has nothing whatsoever to do with serving justice through the death penalty.

    We are pro-life because abortion is the unjustified killing of an innocent life due to the choice of another person, whereas the death penalty is a just punishment given out to criminals who have themselves made a choice to commit a crime that is so bad that it merits having their own life taken.