Reading an article in the Guardian on Rick Santorum’s frankly disgusting views on abortion, I came across the following comment:
A problem with pointing out the inconsistency of opposing right-to-abortion and supporting the death penalty is that the same accusation in reverse can be made to liberals.
Really? I don’t think so. While it may seem that if one is inconsistent the other must also be so, I would argue that the consistency of the pro-choice, anti-death penalty position (and the inconsistency of anti-choice pro-death penalty viewpoints) comes from the values generally emphasised in each.
The anti-choice argument generally runs something like this: The primary right is to life, and all human life is sacred. Embryos and fetuses constitute seperate human life, and are therefore entitled to the same protections as other humans. Because of this, terminating fetal and embryonic human life is equivalent to murdering a person and should not be permitted. I gather that being in favour of the death penalty has something to do with punishing people who do bad things to the fullest extent possible, although to be honest it’s a perspective I’ve never been able to wrap my head around.
As a person who’s as pro-choice as I’m against the death penalty, the main difference is in the principles I emphasise.