Open Letter to Governor Stitt: the Pro-life Case against the Death Penalty

Posted on November 23, 2021 By

Dear Governor Stitt:

As an organization, we at the Consistent Life Network have signed on to the letter calling on you to stop Oklahoma executions. The letter was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, which was seeking many signatories.

As a pro-life/pro-peace group, we strenuously object to the ACLU’s position on abortion. Since we know that you’ve said you would sign any pro-life bill that crossed your desk, for which we applaud you, we want to make the case against the death penalty from a pro-life/anti-abortion perspective. Below we offer words from prominent abortion opponents who have done so.

Quotations in alphabetical order by last name:

Sam Brownback, then Republican United States Senator (later Governor of Kansas)

U.S. News and World Report, April 11, 2005. p. 34

If we’re trying to establish a culture of life, it’s difficult to have the state sponsoring executions.


Colby Coash. Nebraska state senator
quoted in Time Magazine, May 20, 2015

I’m a pro-life guy. I couldn’t reconcile my pro-life beliefs regarding the unborn with doing something different with the condemned.

Hanna Cox
Alabama Executes a Murderer a Day After Banning Abortions
New York Times, May 16, 2019

Alabama cleared the way on Thursday for the scheduled execution of a convicted murderer, a day after the state enacted a near-total ban on abortions, two actions on contentious social issues that often have people across the political spectrum invoking the sanctity of human life.

“It’s a contradiction that I always observed,” said Hannah Cox, the national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty . . . Approving of executions, Ms. Cox said, is “a stance that cheapens the pro-life argument.”

Laura Hollis
Death is Not the Answer
Creators Syndicate, August 22, 2019

The embrace of death as solution is not a phenomenon that admits easily of “left versus right” political — or even cultural — divisions. Americans on the right often defend the death penalty just as vehemently as the left cheerleads for abortion . . .

How easily we accept the conclusion that death is the answer to our most serious problems. Unwanted baby? Kill it. Have an incurable disease? Kill yourself. Commit a heinous crime? The government should kill you. These precedents — and the assumptions about human life that underlie them — should frighten us.

Christian Josi, former Executive Director, American Conservative Union
Life locked away, not death
Washington Times, June 25, 2001

My fundamental problems with the death penalty began as a result of my personal concern, echoed by many on all sides of the political spectrum, that it was inconsistent for one to be “pro-life” on the one hand and condone government execution on the other.

Kathryn Jean Lopez
Stop the Death Penalty
National Review, February 24, 2020

I do think that good Christian pro-life people need to examine the witness of not having mercy for a Nick Sutton. People respond to love. Mercy is for the guilty. We can’t be callous in these circumstances, or our arguments about the life of the most innocent might not be heard. I understand why the governor did what he did, but the death penalty should prompt more of a cultural examination of conscience. It could bring a lot of people of good will — those “pro-life” and “social justice” groups that seem strangely divided — together.

Tom Neuville, leading Republican on the Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary Committee
Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 7, 2003

Life is a gift from God. It isn’t up to us to take it away. Whether you take an innocent life of a baby, or of a person who has committed a heinous act, it is still an act at our hands, and it makes us a less caring and less sensitive society.”

Laura Peredo, president of Ravens Respect Life at Benedictine College
at a press conference supporting a law to repeal the death penalty in Kansas
March 17, 2015

No crime can change the fundamental truth that every human life possesses dignity from the moment of conception until natural death. I am one of a growing number of young people who support repealing the death penalty—a reform that demonstrates our unwavering commitment to safeguarding life at all stages, without exceptions.



Topeka Capitol Journal
Advocates Seek Repeal of Capital Punishment, March 17, 2015

Conservative Republican political figures and the president of a Benedictine College pro-life student group delved Tuesday into ramifications of Kansas law authorizing convicted killers to be sentenced to death. . . .

Gov. Sam Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican who would hold the veto pen if the House and Senate passed a repeal bill, didn’t participate in the rally.

He did say in an interview prior to the event that anti-abortion activists had increasingly been drawn into the capital punishment conversation.

“You hear it connected,” Brownback said. “You hear it said more frequently now.”

Richard Viguerie
When Governments Kill: A conservative argues for abolishing the death penalty, Sojourners, 2009

Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation . . . But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people. Those of us who oppose abortion believe that it is perhaps the greatest immorality to take an innocent life. While the death penalty is supposed to take the life of the guilty, we know that is not always the case. It should have shocked the consciences of conservatives when various government prosecutors withheld exculpatory, or opposed allowing DNA-tested, evidence in death row cases. To conservatives, that should be deemed as immoral as abortion . . . But even when guilt is certain, there are many downsides to the death penalty system.


For more of our posts on the death penalty, see: 

Why Conservatives Should Oppose the Death Penalty / Destiny Herndon-de la Rosa

Is the Death Penalty Unethical? / Hannah Cox

The Death Penalty and Abortion: The Conservative/Liberal Straitjacket / Rachel MacNair

Racism and the Death Penalty  / David Cruz-Uribe

Death Penalty Jurisprudence of  Former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith / Laura Denvir Stith

For more of our posts on pro-lifers making a pro-life case against other forms of violence in addition to abortion, see: 

When Linking Abortion with Other Violence Comes Naturally to Pro-lifers – Part 1: Connections Show Importance

When Linking Abortion with Other Violence Comes Naturally to Pro-lifers – Part 2: Consistency Strengthens the Case


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  1. Thomas says:

    Unfortunately I think that a huge failure of the so-called Consistent Life Ethic is not to criticize for the same reasons the monstruous laws that tend to take any legal protection to the unborn politicians who now tend to support abortion until birth and oppose the death penalty. There isn`t a contradiction in here? After your partial endorsement of Joe Biden for President, I lost any hope in the CLE for their obvious contradictions and inability to criticize the pro-abortion fundamentalism that now dominates the Democratic Party, while praising their anti-death penalty stance.

  2. Bill Samuel says:

    CLN made no endorsement, partial or otherwise, of Biden. With any political figure, CLN will criticize policies of theirs that we think wrong and praise those we think right. If you look through the weekly issues of Peace and Life Connections, I think you will find plenty of criticism of the pro-abortion fundamentalism in the Democratic Party, while holding up those Democrats who resist that. CLN has repeatedly noted the dilemma that CLE persons have with regard to voting, and that there is a wide spectrum of how CLE persons deal with that.

    • Thomas says:

      Excuse me, but thats untrue. You gave three “Consistent” approaches to the 2021 presidential elections, as you certainly remember, and you can read it back at the archives, the first started as “Trump is out of question, Biden is bearable”.

      • Bill Samuel says:

        Thomas, I think this is a misunderstanding. In the first place, that was a blog post and we make clear blog posts are not official CLN positions. Secondly, it gave three categories of how CLE folks approach the election. Your quote is from the first category, and the folks in the other two categories were pictured as not finding a Biden vote acceptable. Furthermore, the author herself was in the third category, which was those who would not vote for either Biden or Trump. So there was no endorsement, partial or otherwise, in the blog post let alone in anything officially representing CLN.

        [NOTE: I am a CLN Board member as well as a member of the editorial group which reviews both our weekly Peace & Life Connections and blog posts. I happened to be in the same category as the author.]

  3. Julia Smucker says:

    Criticizing legalized killing by both abortion and execution (among other things) – and the inconsistencies of condemning one means of killing while cheering another – is exactly what the CLE, CLN and this post are all about. Not that we’re *only* about criticism, of course; we’re also very much about positive affirmation of the value of all human life. But as a response to the unfounded charge of one-sidedness (a charge we often receive from both directions on the political spectrum), Bill’s encapsulation of CLN’s across-the-board critiques is right on. Certainly no regular reader of our newsletter could reasonably perceive us as uncritical of legalized abortion.

  4. I might add that I, too, found myself in the third category, namely that of those CL folks who refused to vote for Biden or Trump and instead voted for a consistently pro-life third-party candidate. However, if I had been living in a state with ranked voting, my second choice would’ve been for Trump, and no choice of mine could ever have been for Biden. So it would be a mistake to infer that that third category of persons who refused to vote for Trump was just a cover for persons who preferred Biden.

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