The Death Penalty and Abortion: Perspectives on Connections

Posted on March 7, 2023 By


Quotation collected by Rachel MacNair


Helen Prejean

Helen Prejean

Endorsing the book, Consistently Opposing Killing

The societal wounds of racism, poverty, and a penchant for using violence to address problems are intimately connected to the death penalty, to war, to the killing of the old and demented, and to the killing of children, unborn and born. If more people were familiar with the consistent life ethic, as expounded in this book, then the voice of all unseen vulnerable people would be better heard.




Ann Marie Bowen

Nebraskans United for Life (writing on the Retain a Just Nebraska website)

The Sacredness of All Life, April 21, 2016

 In debates over life, questions inevitably come up asking whether those working tirelessly to defend life are motivated by a concern for all life. A growing movement of pro-life lawmakers and citizens in Nebraska have left no doubt where we stand: we are committed to ending all policies that unnecessarily threaten life, from abortion to the death penalty to euthanasia. Ultimately, no message is more powerful than this straightforward consistency.

In November, all Nebraskans are going to have a chance to vote on whether or not to bring back our state’s death penalty. I encourage you to think of that vote as an opportunity to vocally proclaim a consistent ethic of life in all we do. I implore Nebraskans to help promote a culture of life and reject bringing back our broken death penalty.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

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.




Richard A. 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.


Laura Hollis, conservative columnist

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. (Euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to have advocates and opponents in every conceivable political camp.)  . . .

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. Instead, we find ourselves pushed into accepting them as normal — even as positive.


Nicholas T. Wright

former Anglican Bishop of Durham, England and author of several books as N.T. Wright or Tom Wright

September 15, 2011, Washington Post blog

You can’t reconcile being pro-life on abortion and pro-death on the death penalty. Almost all the early Christian Fathers were opposed to the death penalty, even though it was of course standard practice across the ancient world. As far as they were concerned, their stance went along with the traditional ancient Jewish and Christian belief in life as a gift from God, which is why (for instance) they refused to follow the ubiquitous pagan practice of “exposing” baby girls (i.e. leaving them out for the wolves or for slave-traders to pick up).

Mind you, there is in my view just as illogical a position on the part of those who solidly oppose the death penalty but are very keen on the “right” of a woman (or couple) to kill their conceived but not yet born child.



Ron Paul

2008 candidate for U.S. Republican presidential nomination, Libertarian Party presidential candidate, former U.S. Representative from Texas

Liberty Defined, 2011

The consistent right-to-life position should be to protect the unborn and oppose abortion, to reject the death penalty, and to firmly oppose our foreign policy that promotes an empire requiring aggressive wars that involve thousands of innocent people being killed. We would all be better off for it, and a society dedicated to peace, human life, and prosperity would more likely be achieved.


More of our posts that are quotations from varying perspectives: 

Women with Disabilities Speak

Historical Black Voices: Racism Kills

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

Roe v. Wade: Legal Scholars Comment



abortionconnecting issuesconservativesdeath penalty

  1. Pantheist says:

    “Mind you, there is in my view just as illogical a position on the part of those who solidly oppose the death penalty but are very keen on the “right” of a woman (or couple) to kill their conceived but not yet born child.” (N. T. Wright) All this said, progressives most of the time can get away with being anti-death penalty and pro-abortion. Its much more easy to be pro-life on abortion and anti-death penalty, or often to convince those who are pro-life to change their mind on it, than to turn someone who opposes the capital punishment anti-abortion too. I would like to see more attempts from pro-life people to explain or try to persuade why people who oppose the death penalty should also oppose abortion. I think it was about to happen, but the magazine “Sojourners” endorsed recently Roe vs. Wade and is against the death penalty. I also can think about the film “Dead Man Walking” and the fact that I think most people involved in it, except Sister Helen Prejean, are pro-abortion. Actor Sean Penn definetely is.

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