The hypocrisy of politics in the battle over human life

This past April, I visited Washington DC to meet with some powerful conservative lobbying groups. The goal was to determine if they would become involved in congressional races, namely the one my dad chose to pursue. While there, I met with the NRA, NFIB, RNCC, NRCCATR, FRC, Eagle Forum, ACUCWFA and a few more. If you don’t know what these groups are or what they support, assume they are very conservative and likely fall very closely in line with my father’s values (and mine in many instances).

Another group I met with was the “National Right to Life,” a group dedicated to “right-to-life” issues. I sat in the meeting and listened to the representative explain the NRLC’s position on abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide. After about an hour, the others in the meeting had asked all of the questions they had and the representative asked if there were any others.

I remember raising my hand and asking something like this; “So, as outspoken defenders of life, how active are you in the battle to eliminate capital punishment from our legal system?” A few heads turned toward the representative, and she meekly responded, “Our aim is to protect innocent life.” That was it. No further discussion. No further questions.

As I left the meeting, I asked another person connected with the agency why they took that position. Their response was simple; protecting the lives of innocents is where they planted their flag. I commented on how completely hypocritical it was for an organization to be called National Right to Life and remain painfully silent on capital punishment. A shoulder shrug later and I realized that NRLC wasn’t defending life, they were simply defending the lives they wanted to defend.

The more I think about it, here is how I see it: you either support life, or you don’t. You either support both abortion, euthanasia, infanticide and capital punishment, or you denounce all of them.

Many of my liberal friends despise capital punishment, but they “understand” a woman’s right to choose to end the life of a baby, known as a fetus to the “progressive” left. On the opposite side, many of my conservative friends despise abortion, but gladly accept taking a human life related to a guilty verdict.

This hypocrisy is so blatant that few people in either political party consider the issues related in any form. I cannot recall having heard a discussion on abortion and capital punishment where a politician agreed that the issue was life. Rather, it is often a women’s rights issue versus a crime and safety issue. Rarely a life issue, and certainly not for both.

So, here is how I believe it should work:

  • To my liberal friends: pick a side. If you accept abortion as a means of ending a human life, then you must accept capital punishment. You cannot support ending life in one instance and then oppose it in another. It’s hypocrisy, pure and simple. Abortion = Capital Punishment, no matter what NARAL says.
  • To my conservative friends: pick a side. If you oppose abortion in EVERY circumstance, you must oppose capital punishment in ANY circumstance. Human life is human life, criminal or innocent. Again, it is clearly hypocritical. Capital Punishment = Abortion, no matter what the NRLC says.
  • To my libertarian friends, pick a side. You cannot have it both ways. You can’t support abortion and euthanasia but oppose capital punishment. Life is life, no matter the situation.
We are living in a time of extreme polarization. This issue should be easy. You either support life, or you don’t. No matter where you stand on the issue of protecting life, the hypocrisy should be easy to see from both political parties. Take a stand one way or another, but taking a stand on both sides of the line is no stand at all.
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4 responses to “The hypocrisy of politics in the battle over human life”

  1. Stephen H Morris says :

    Wes, I must respectfully disagree with you. There are at least two legitimate and significant moral distinctions between abortion and capital punishment.

    First, the innocence of the life being taken is clearly relevant. Mosaic law and its not-so-distant descendant, Anglo-American law, criminalize murder but not killing in self-defense or by public officials in the line of duty or by the military in time of war. Why? Because both recognize a valid justification for taking the life of a (non-innocent) person in the latter instances. From a social contract standpoint, a murderer, who has taken a presumably innocent life, has forfeited his “right to life” by that act; capital punishment is society’s legitimate way of acting in self-defense.

    Second, there is significant difference in the party taking the life. An abortion is performed by a doctor at the caprice of the mother (the woman having the ostensible ‘right to choose’ – don’t get me started on that constitutional fallacy); in contrast, capital punishment is carried out by the courts operating under the strictest protections of due process on behalf of society as a whole. God has in fact ordained government for the purpose of punishing/deterring wrongdoing (Rom. 13: 1-4); individuals to do not have a corresponding power (Rom. 12: 19-21).

    • Wes Hartline says :

      Dr. Morris:

      I appreciate your thoughts. I understand the moral dilemma presented biblically through the New Testament on taking an innocent life v. a life of a criminal.

      My concern is that someone is taking a life in both instances. Making the argument that government has a divine obligation to taking a life is where I lose that fight. I don’t believe that faithful Christian actions like taking the life of a criminal are acceptable through use of the scripture. Being called to forgive and love others as a Christian is where I choose to rest.

      As for the biblical government stance, the argument could be made (and has been) for abortion based on that same principle. If government can decide what is acceptable, then abortion has been justified through government, which is unacceptable to me. In that same regard, the capital punishment argument can be (and has been) justified.

      Its a matter of consistency for me. I am attempting to call into question how maligned both sides have become related to the hypocrisy of our stance on life. Its not a matter or politics, but more of right and wrong approaches to any human life.
      sent from my BlackBerry

  2. dalton says :

    I respectfully disagree. As a woman (unlike the first commenter) I have a right to choose. Not just abortion, I have a right to contraceptives, family planning, etc. Conservative men, the most outspoken pro-lifers, believe it’s “capricious” for a woman to decide what happens to her body. As a woman I am always offended by white 60-year old male (mostly politicians), ovaries lacking, who feel they have a right to decide about women’s reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade opened a door for women to feel empowered enough (and be protected by law) not just for abortions, but for safe choices in their sexuality.

    Let’s be honest, it wasn’t that women weren’t having abortions, but rather they were having back closet abortions, or being forced to have children that were given up without their consent–you can’t possibly justify the latter as “okay” simply because they went through the entire pregnancy. (A great read on this is “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.” It deals with both the stories of the women and the psychological scarring from illegal abortions and feeling/being forced to give up their children after being forced to carry through with the pregnancy.)

    I’ll be honest with you, I wouldn’t personally consider an abortion, but I am proud that as a woman, under Roe v. Wade, my government guarantees that I am given a choice. Family planning is extremely personal, it should never be restricted by the government (especially when the government is extremely unrepresentative of the real world and its constituents). The death penalty is not about choice, it’s not a private matter about a woman and her body and her ability to choose, it’s about a grotesque means to “punish” a wrong-doing that is so grotesque and/or brutal that society hopes to deter through killing the wrong-doer. As history and time have shown, it’s anything but a deterrent, and far more of a prejudiced, biased, bigoted process that has endless inconsistencies and has allowed many innocent to die because of wrongful convictions. Without the death penalty, the convicted person, assuming rightfully convicted, would still serve life or life without parole; repaying his or her dues for their crime. It’s witless to compare a woman and her taking charge of her reproductive system and the idea of a criminal serving a far more humane sentence for his or her offense.

    • Wes Hartline says :

      Respectfully, to consider the abortion argument as a ‘family-planning’ method is disturbing.

      I can understand your position that Roe. v. Wade protects your personal rights by giving you the right to abort a fetus, but in doing so it contradicts the right to life. Attempting to make the argument that abortion is comparable to birth-control or other prevention options is a bold stance.

      My intent is and was to show the hypocrisy in supporting one and not the other. Life is life, period. In my view, to support abortion from a “protection” stance is the height of hypocrisy. We are called to protect those unable to protect themselves as Christians, but I think many would say the same applies as a civilized human race.

      I am all for safe options for women in sexuality, but I do not believe that includes ending the life of an unborn child.

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