Pro-life for the Whole Life: Opposing Capital Punishment

By Hayden Laye, President of DFLA South Carolina

As we approach the 9th month anniversary of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood in America, and with news about Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying, also known as MAID, law swirling we cannot forget about another major life issue: the Death Penalty. 

As pro-lifers, we believe that every person has worth and dignity and that every life has value. This is true not just of the innocent child in the womb but even of those who have committed unspeakable crimes. The sanctity of human life is something that cannot be forfeited. Do note that since 1973, over 180 former death row inmates have been found innocent and exonerated in the United States. 

There are currently about 2.5 thousand people on death row across almost 30 states plus the Federal Govt./Military with 64 active death warrants in 6 states. 

Many States are taking conflicting positions on protecting life. States that protect the life of unborn children are taking extreme pro-execution stances, like Oklahoma and Alabama both of which ban abortion from the moment of conception. And states taking steps to end the death penalty are taking extreme pro-abortion stances, like Oregon.

Oklahoma is planning to execute one person per month over the next four years. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a moratorium on executions due to a string of botched executions. However, the State has now lifted it and has not ruled out executions via the gas chamber.

Former Democrat Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted the death sentences of all people on the state’s death row, yet she supported little to no safety regulations for abortion.

We believe states should be more like West Virginia. The Mountain State abolished the death penalty almost 60 years ago in 1965. They passed a ban on abortion all the way back in 1846. When the courts ruled the 1846 ban on abortion could not take effect, the state legislature took swift action to pass a new ban that has been able to take effect. That ban passed with the support of multiple Democrats. 

We must also remember about the executions outside of America. Two people have already been executed by hanging in Iran over the Mahsa Amini protests and unfortunately many more executions are expected to come.

Rev. Sharon Risher is the daughter of Ethel Lance and the cousin of Tywanza Sanders and Susie Jackson, victims of the 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina (my home state). In a New York Times article after a jury found that Parkland shooter Nickolas Cruz’s crimes did not merit the death penalty, Rev. Risher said, “I would never tell anyone how to feel in such a situation. I can only share my own story. And having lived through this awful experience — the loss of my loved ones, followed by a trial in which we had to hear about the terrible details of the murders again and to revisit all of the pain — I can say that Mr. Roof’s death sentence did not bring my family closure. It only prolonged our agony.”

The debate among pro-lifers over the death penalty will continue in the years ahead, but Democrats for Life of America is clear in our position: The death penalty does not make us safer and it does not reinforce the sanctity of life. It is time to end the death penalty, even for those who commit the most heinous crimes, like Dylan Roof and Nikolas Cruz.