Home Social Justice Opinion: The pope’s position on being “pro-life” extends further than conception

Opinion: The pope’s position on being “pro-life” extends further than conception

5 min read

What do Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina all have in common? They are “pro-life” Republican presidential candidates, yet they support the death penalty.  

Last Thursday, Pope Francis, the “people’s pope,” asked Congress to eliminate the death penalty. The pope reminded us of the golden rule: do unto others as we would have done unto us.

“If we want life, let us give life,” he said.

The pope explained that every life is sacred regardless of the harm that person has caused. He said that since the start of his ministry, he has been an advocate of abolishing capital punishment.

“I am convinced that this…way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes,” he said.

Pope Francis also said that we have a “responsibility to respect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” which implies from conception to natural death.

In the U.S., capital punishment has been declining with fewer criminals added to death row and executed each year. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, capital punishment remains legal in 31 states and as of April 1, 2015, the number of inmates facing execution was 3,002.

While the death penalty does not seem to be a pressing issue in politics, abortion consistently is for the presidential election cycle. Each candidate noted above has stated they are “pro-life,” would protect the unborn and also defund Planned Parenthood. Jeb Bush proudly noted he had already defunded the women’s health services provider while he was Florida’s governor.

Similarly, Ben Carson said in a recent interview with CNN that he does agree with the pope on the issue of protecting fetuses.

“You [Carson] do agree with the pope to protect life at all stages starting with conception,” CNN reporter Chris Cuomo said, to which Carson agreed.

In contrast to his pro-life position, Carson believes capital punishment should be a decision left to the states.

“I think that the death penalty should be decided in a civil manner with the people in the area,” Carson stated.

Front-runner Donald Trump also agrees with Carson.  

“I am pro-life, against gay marriage, and very much, very much, in favor of the death penalty,” Donald Trump said in an interview with FOX News.

As a whole, the Republican Party and their presidential nominees pride themselves on being “pro-life.” Ironically, they support the death penalty and don’t seem to struggle with the cognitive dissonance created by these two contradictory beliefs.

In fact, the only presidential nominee who opposes the death penalty is Democratic candidate. Bernie Sanders. Bernie has noted that the death penalty sentencing has a racial bias and that mistakes are made in law and criminal proceeding, resulting in innocent people sitting on death row and being put to death in the name of justice.

If the Republican candidates aren’t going to heed the pope’s advice, they perhaps, to more accurately reflect their beliefs, should refer to themselves as “pro-life except when I am not pro-life.”

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One Comment

  1. Nancy Hopkins

    September 30, 2015 at 11:38 PM

    Very well said, Melanie.


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