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Let’s start with two road blocks to an intellectually honest discussion on this topic.
Pro Life vs. Capital Punishment
Often in an abortion debate, someone will bring up the supposed dichotomy between maintaining a pro life stance when it comes to abortion, and a pro-death stance when it comes to the death penalty. The issue here really revolves around the concept of justice, or desert. To hold both beliefs in the affirmative requires the baby to not have committed a crime worthy of death, while the inmate on death row has. Or in other words, Capital Punishment requires a standard for the State to use in order to justify the exercise of that power – innocence or guilt above all.
Personal Revenge vs. Capital Punishment
Just as frequently, the adage “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” will be used to combat a pro death penalty stance. As with most topics that delve into politics, the role of the government comes into question. The majority of political stances across all cultures agree on at least one principle, viz. the government exists to uphold the law. That is the primary reason a police officer bears a firearm, and a Centurion once wielded a spear. This is in contrast to the average citizen. We do not allow citizens to be judge, jury, and executioner primarily because the citizen is not impartial. In the case of self-defense, a citizen may, in a hot moment, defend him/herself against assault – resulting in the death of the perpetrator. But the citizen is forbidden from doing this after the crime has been committed.