Wendy Davis, a confirmed supporter of late-term abortion, has come in for severe criticism from Texas Republicans, who argue that late-term abortion presents a menace to women and the unborn. The measure, stipulating that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, is being hotly debated by the Supreme Court. This measure calls into question Texas Republicans’ self-proclaimed benevolent humanism, which is unmistakably redolent of hypocrisy. The continued practice of the death penalty (Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered 234 executions), and its barbarous perpetuation of a death-centered society offers an incisive look into the double standards of the left and right on the American political spectrum.
Governor Perry, in discussing his tenure as governor vis-à-vis the death penalty, said that he has “never struggled with that at all,” a callous admission that, like many pro-choice arguments, concedes that some lives are more valued than others. Indeed, while the pro-life movement is diverse and variegated (some uphold life at conception, others after a certain period of gestation), most would say that aborting a five-month-old fetus is more deplorable than a first-trimester abortion. What then, accounts for the support in the pro-life movement of the death penalty, a practice allowing a fully sentient, innocent (the death penalty is inherently flawed, being based on fallible claims of human justice) individual to be put to death?
To be charitable, support for the death-penalty is not limited to pro-lifers. Bill Clinton, of “safe, legal and rare” fame, amidst GOP criticism for being soft on crime, ordered the execution of a mentally disabled black man, Ricky Ray Rector. This lends weight to the failure of political power, among liberals and conservatives, to place life and death outside of the purview of the judiciary (and the corresponding abuse and degradation of the sanctity of life this entails).
Furthermore, the United States, in retaining the death penalty, shares the warm company of many Muslim-majority countries. The connection between religious zealotry and the precipitant snuffing out of human life vocally condemns the widely held view that the religious are the sole defenders of sacrosanctity and further strengthens the case that secular values provide an imperishable foundation for moral judgments. A moral position whose main political defenders audaciously carve out exceptions and immunities has little to recommend it and leaves much to be desired.