Can You be Pro-Choice and Against Capital Punishment?

By Scott D. Roberts
Scott can be contacted at for questions or comments.

I loved living in San Francisco in the early 1990’s. The experience introduced me to various people, lifestyles, cultures, food and the arts. It was a fantastic four years. It also brought my attention to a topic that has baffled me for years. How can someone be pro-choice and against capital punishment?

In 1992, I wandered into a gathering of protesters opposing the execution of Robert Alton Harris. He would be the first execution in the State of California since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. He was convicted of shooting two teenage boys in the head and stealing their car. Two sixteen year old boys had their lives abruptly ended and their families future altered forever because of the actions of this man.

What caught my attention was several of the protesters were wearing shirts that read, “Pro-Choice.” I had to take another look to make sure I had read that correctly. I immediately thought what a contradiction. I was observing a lively protest to save a convicted murderer’s life with a few people who would also aggressively fight for the right to abort a baby.

Think about that for a minute.

Now for full disclosure, I am pro-choice. I believe a woman should have safe access to end a pregnancy if that’s her decision. I might not make that choice if I were a woman but I’m not, so to elaborate would be an unrealistic hypothetical.

I don’t believe in late term abortions, anything after the first trimester, unless the woman’s health is at risk to carry the baby to full term. I don’t understand the far-right, religious zealots who oppose ending pregnancies that are a result of incest or rape. I question anyone’s moral compass who would force a woman to give birth to her rapist’s child for the sake of their own selfish beliefs.

According to Serrin. M. Foster, President of Feminists For Life, “Abortion after rape is misdirected anger. It doesn’t punish the perpetrator of the crime or prevent further assaults against other women.” If a victim truly feels that way than by all means, keep the baby. However, that’s where the choice comes into play. If the victim is repulsed by the thought of giving birth to her rapist’s child she shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if she’s pro-life. That’s a common sense exception. In today’s politically correct world, you might open up an entirely new can of worms. What if the convicted rapist wants parental rights or visitation?

On the other hand, I don’t have any problem with the death penalty. I have absolutely zero compassion for a man or woman who mercilessly murders a child or another innocent human being. In fact, I would go further with implementing the death penalty to include child molesters and human traffickers. These monsters’ childhoods should be studied by criminal behavioral specialists and profilers but not as an excuse for their actions.

Robert Alton Harris was executed April 21, 1992 after spending thirteen years on death row. Yes, thirteen. The time between sentencing and execution seems to be the complaint of many people who support capital punishment. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the average time from arrest, prosecution and sentencing in a capital punishment case is 12 years. Carrying out the execution can be 20-25 years from arrest.

People want it done quicker. I’m not one of them. I’d rather all appeals be exhausted and the latest DNA technology used to confirm evidence in every case. I’d prefer physical evidence over eye-witness testimony in order to carry out an execution. No one wants to execute a Kirk Bloodsworth, the 1st death-row inmate in the United States to be exonerated by DNA evidence in 1993.

So, I’m confused and don’t really understand how someone could support an abortion — the killing an unborn child who could discover a cure for cancer; yet fight tooth and nail to save the life of someone who viciously murdered another human being. An unborn child with no chance at a life versus someone who made horrible choices and bad decisions.

So running into those protesters on that day in 1992 affirmed a few things for me. Peaceful protest is a fantastic right that we have in this country and it’s okay to support this privilege without agreeing or being confused by the message.

So, can you be pro-choice and against capital punishment? The ACLU finds that “capital punishment is cruel and unusual. Executions have no place in a civilized society.” The ACLU supports late term abortions. Have you seen those videos?

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