Monday, January 9, 2012

Abortion and Capital Punishment: Where is the Consistency of Logic?

Before the advent of DNA testing, there was no question that some prisoners on death row were executed, though innocent of the crime for which they were accused. It was not just unfortunate, but a horrible travesty. Today however, DNA testing has exonerated more than one convicted prisoner which has led to their release from prison and death. All good. Our justice system is not nor has it ever been perfect, but it is all we have at the moment. In justice and in most things where humans are involved, there is always the chance of human error and our penal system has proved that. DNA testing has been invaluable as a means of finding the truth as to the innocence or guilt of a person. I will venture to say that DNA does not lie. It is as perfect in identifying a person through genetic code as anything we have, and more so. Innocence is at stake here and that is no small thing when faced with execution.

Many who wish to ban capital punishment feel the risk of killing an innocent person is too great to allow executions to continue, that it is not a deterrent to others who wish to commit a capital crime and that the taking of a life, even of one who is guilty of a heinous crime is simply wrong and we debase ourselves as a society as a result. Fair enough, but many who are against capital punishment support abortion rights for women.

There is no question that an unborn child is human life; DNA testing of any fetus will prove that. You cannot take a human sperm and fertilize a human egg and come up with anything other than a human being. It cannot be a kitten, a puppy or a turnip. It's that simple. So why is the killing of an unborn human any different than the killing of a person on death row? Why is one allowed and not the other? The argument today seems to  be the state of personhood when it pertains to the unborn. The argument goes that the unborn is not yet a person. Yes, DNA proves it's humanity, but that alone does not make it a person, so an abortion is acceptable. Obviously, a prisoner on death row is not only human, but also a person and to execute that person would be wrong.

As Americans, we've prided ourselves in believing that someone is innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof that a person is guilty of a crime lies with those that are victims of that crime or the entity representing the victim. Not so with the unborn child. An unborn child, unable to speak for itself is considered guilty until proven innocent. Guilty of what? Guilty of not being a person. What defines a  person? You can ask ten people what makes a human being a person and you will get ten different answers. You can ask 200 people the same question and you will get 200 variations of the same answers. In other words, there is no scientific or medical proof that conclusively dictates that an unborn child is not a person. There is no test that determines the personhood of the unborn. The unborn are in the same predicament as a prisoner on death row before DNA testing.

If those who are pro-abortion and at the same time in favor of banning capital punishment because of the risk of executing an innocent man or woman are so willing to fight for the life of a prisoner, why then is not the same fight, fought with the same exuberance, not extended to the unborn? If the chance of executing a person that is innocent remains because of uncertainty of his guilt despite our best efforts to ascertain guilt, why is an unborn child aborted if the uncertainty of whether or not they a person also remains?

Notice that presumption of guilt is placed on the unborn; not so with a prisoner. Pro-abortion advocates have framed the argument in such a way that those of us that are pro-life have to prove the personhood of the unborn, thus their innocence, when those who favor abortion, knowing that there is no test to prove personhood, go off without having to provide evidence of the lack of same. This is not only inconsistency of logic of those who favor abortion, but also a double standard.

Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College once described abortion as an abandoned house. I do not remember the exact wording of the analogy but it goes something like this.

Supposing someone with a gun came upon a house that was abandoned with the intentions of shooting out the windows and while taking aim, a passerby stopped and asked what he was doing. The passerby, after the first man explained what he was about to do, then asks him what if there was someone inside the house? What if a person really lived there? The gunman answers that it's been abandoned and falling down and that no one in their right mind could believe a person would actually live in such a place. Besides, he explained, there has been no movement seen around the house nor has anyone ever seen a person go in or out.

The story then goes on to explain that if the gunman did discharge his gun and was reported to the police, then he would be arrested or fined for endangerment of the public, discharging a firearm in a residential area and if indeed a person lived there and was killed by one of the bullets, he would then be charged with manslaughter at the very least. A defense of he didn't know a person was in the house at the time of the shooting would be no defense. He should have known better. He should have reasoned that perhaps someone could be in the house, and that by shooting out the windows he could not only have put others in danger but ended up killing someone in the house he could not see.

For those who are pro-abortion, the life in the womb is an abandoned house. There is no person in that little life because it does nothing. There is no indication that it can even think let alone "know" anything. So no one lives there. It is only a shell, a shell that maybe one day will hold a person, never thinking that perhaps a person does inhabit this shell of a human body, but at the present moment it cannot communicate that it is a person. What defense will an abortionist have if it is ever proven medically that the unborn is a person? That he didn't know? As in the analogy above of the abandoned house, not knowing is no defense, that is why there are laws against reckless endangerment of the public. The gunman should have erred on the side of caution. Not so when it pertains to abortions even though there is no proof that the unborn is not a person. An assumption is made that it is not a person instead of the other way around.

Those of us that are Christian and pro-life do not need medical proof that an unborn child is a person. The law of nature and our faith has provided us with all we need to know. But what of those that are not of our faith and do not listen to what natural law has inscribed in all of us? If medical science ever proved that the unborn is a person, perhaps it would suffice for those that fight for abortion rights and will then abandoned their support for abortions. That proof, or lack of it, would not change what I believe is the truth. It would only solidify what I've always known. As in the shroud of Turin, were it ever to be  proven without a shadow of a doubt that it is a fake, it would do nothing to my faith for my faith does not lie in a shroud. The lack of medical proof of the personhood of the unborn does not change my mind that all humans are persons from conception, but perhaps if it were proven that an unborn child is a person,  it would change the minds of many that fight for the right of abortions. Until then, it would be logical and reasonable to assume that yes, it is a person and we should err on the side of caution.

There are those that can better articulate the defense of the unborn than I can. They have a gift of persuasion that I can only hope to have someday, yet, despite this, I cannot remain silent, nor will I. As mentioned above, Dr. Peter Kreeft has written a tremendous article arguing the defense of the unborn here.

Finally, I believe that there are some hardcore abortionists that would not change their minds even if the truth of personhood slapped them in the face. I do not think anything short of a "Road To Damascus" could sway them in changing their minds. However, it is for those that are morally confused about abortion that I appeal to. There are those I believe that do not know what to think about the immorality of abortion and do not know how to listen to that voice inside of them and how to discern it. If you are confused or not sure if that unborn life in a woman's womb is really a person, than I ask you err on the side of caution. If I am wrong and it is not a person, then nothing is lost, but if I'm right...


  1. On the other hand, there are some in the pro-life camp who advocate capital punishment. The logical, Christian response should be anti-abortion and anti-death penalty.

  2. Robert: No. Society has a right to execute criminals. This is not a matter of opinion, it comes directly from God in Scripture.

    Society has nom right to execute the innocent unborn.

    Your analogy is false.

  3. Plus the medical community has established the truth of personhood...Don't you know that the abortionists are "helping" women. This is not a battle of logic, if it were it would have been over long ago. This is Satan's expertise - the Father of Lies - has a great hold on many. Rick is right...Executions in the US are rare when you compare them with the number of murders that take place. Just look in any city in America, we have become desensitized to the daily killings. Pray for God's truth to reign in our lives.

  4. I'm against capital punishment. Jesus gave the qualifications for the executioners in John 8.

    I'm also against abortion.


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