Liberals who “decry” the death penalty while also being pro-life are not hypocrites, as suggested by Virginia Seuffert. [Why be pro-life and support the death penalty? Viewpoints, Feb. 3] While Ms. Seuffert asks whether a person who claims to be pro-life can still favor the death penalty, perhaps the better question to ask is whether a person should be both pro-life and anti-death penalty? I say yes.

I disagree that the two issues are “poles apart,” and I further disagree that the analysis should focus on guilt or innocence. Rather, the focus should be on one’s view of government intrusion into the most basic tenant of our survival, namely, life and death. Seuffert’s op ed is loaded with inflammatory language, such as a mother’s decision to “kill” an “utterly defenseless” baby and waxing eloquent of the “hypocrisy of liberals,” a la Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

On the one hand, Seuffert informs us that “even the most vicious criminal is human and therefore endowed with inalienable rights and dignity,” but I suspect she isn’t fully invested in that sentiment. This is enforced by her anecdote about Donna Payant, which is again loaded with incendiary illustrations of rape, sodomy and wanton, cruelty and repeated murder.

I would proffer that in a just society, lawmakers should not focus on anecdotes when drafting legislation. This only leads to absurd results such as the congressional intrusion into the Terri Schiavo case. For every tragic story such as Ms. Payant’s, there is an equally compelling counterpart of someone being wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit. For example, take a look at the Jeanine Nicarico case and the repeated attempts of the DuPage County state’s attorney to put Alejandro Hernandez and Rolando Cruz to death. However, neither of those gentlemen was guilty of anything except not being white. It was Lord Black who suggested that it is better for 1,000 guilty men to go free than to wrongfully convict one innocent man.

But Seuffert suggests that it is better to take an eye for an eye than to pay to keep someone in jail. That’s an interesting, albeit flawed, philosophy. The better approach, in a society that values not only human life but also the right to a degree of autonomy, is that it is fundamentally wrong to give government the ultimate power to dictate that a woman must give life. It is also wrong to permit government to take a life. I might be a hypocritical liberal, but I still do not want my government having this power over me or others.

Don Boyd has lived in Oak Park since 1999. He runs and operates a family law practice and was recently admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

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