The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Can you be pro life but for the death penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,939 times Debate No: 52368
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




I believe that abortion is the taking of a living beings position is that only God can take life. The death penalty is the taking of a living beings life......quite a few folks on death row have been released with the advent of DNA so it would seem untenable to be pro life with respect to abortion but not the death penalty


Thank you.

My opponent did not explcitly state the resolution in his first round, but based on the title of this debate I will assume that the resolution is:

One can be pro-life but for the death penalty.

I will be taking the Pro position, and my opponent will take Con. My opponent also didn't lay out any specific rules or parameters for this debate, but I will assume that the burden of proof is shared and that argumentation begins in the first round.

Onto my contentions.

Capital Punishment affirms the value of life

The death penalty ought to be reserved for the most heinous of criminals in our society. The logic behind this is that society is fundamentally skewed when mass-muderers, child rapists, and terrorists get punishments that are significantly softer than the damages inflicted upon their victims and their victims families. Whenever justice is not met in these extreme circumstances, society loses confidence in the system and criminals get the impression that society does not care about murder, thus nullifying the value of life.

Alan Keyes, former United States ambassador, writes that, "There are certain circumstances in which the death penalty is in fact essential to our respect for life. If we do not, in our law, send the message to everyone that by calculatedly, coldly taking a human life--in a way that, for instance, assaults the structures of law in a society, or shows a cold-blooded and studied disregard for the value of that life--if we are not willing to implement the death penalty in those circumstances, then we are actually sending a message of contempt for human life. We are encouraging people to believe that that step is not in fact a terminal step when they premeditatedly and fatally decide to move against the life of another human being." [1]

It is a moral imperative that we apply the death penalty in the most brutal of circumstances to send a clear moral message to people throughout our society that we will not tolerate disrespect for life. Thus, the death penalty is in fact the pro-life position.

Capital Punishment deters murder

Capital Punishment acts as a deterent to murder and other crime, as potential criminals are dissuaded from engaging in actions that could lead to the death penalty. Over the years, several studies have demonstrated a link between executions and decreases in murder rates. In fact, studies done in recent years, using sophisticated panel data methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder incidents.

One such study came from Professor Robert B. Ekelund and several collegues from Auburn University. Using a small state-level data set from 1995 to 1999, they analyzed the effect that executions have on single incidents of murder and multiple incidents of murder. They concluded that, over the four year period, each execution deterred between 3 and 18 murders. [2]

Morever, Michael Summers, PhD, Professor of Management Science at Pepperdine University, wrote in article "Capital Punishment Works" in the Wall Street Journal: "...[O]ur recent research shows that each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year... The study examined the relationship between the number of executions and the number of murders in the U.S. for the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004, using data from publicly available FBI sources... There seems to be an obvious negative correlation in that when executions increase, murders decrease, and when executions decrease, murders increase." [3]

In saving hundreds of innocent lives every year, capital punishment is the obvious pro-life position.

I'll do rebuttals in the next round. Thank you for reading.



[2] Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., John D. Jackson, Rand W. Ressler, and Robert D. Tollison, "Marginal Deterrence and Multiple Murders," Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 72, No. 3 (2006), pp. 521-541.

[3]"Capital Punishment Works" in the Wall Street Journal: Nov. 2, 2007.

Debate Round No. 1


I think it was interesting to quote Alan Keyes..... Mr Keyes hasn't been relevant in years and was to extreme for even the GOP

In any case here is what we know.

1) MANY innocent people were on death row . Below is a list of 144 unjustly convicted sentenced to death
who were later acquitted , pardoned or had charges dismissed

2) There are studies both showing the death being a deterrent and just as many showing the opposite (see below)

Regardless whether it is or is not , taking the life of the unjustly convicted cannot be treated as "collateral" damage

Now NO ONE is saying that someone convicted of murder should be released , however given the large amount of
cases ( with more coming) doesn't it make sense , isn't the right thing to do to err on the side of life. Life in prison
I believe is a pretty severe punishment . Going that route , in the event of an incorrect verdict will allow the innocent
to go free. To minimize the value of the lives of those unjustly accused would be a travesty..

We should always value life , we should always value it.

I conclude that if you value the life of the unborn , we should equally value the life of the born


I'll go through each of the points individually

Reaffirming value of life

Here I brought up the idea that Capital Punishment sends society a moral message that murder is wrong and that disrespect for life will not be tolerated. My opponent doesn't offer any substantive rebuttal to this point whatsoever. For the purposes of this debate, I will consider a drop to be a concession.

I suppose that the one response my opponent does give is, "I think it was interesting to quote Alan Keyes..... Mr Keyes hasn't been relevant in years and was to extreme for even the GOP." However, this doesn't really address my argument, and is more of an ad-homenim attack on Alan Keyes himself. Character assassination is fallacious, and does not invalidate my point.


My opponent cites a list of people that have been exonerated from death row. Ironically, he does not mention a single person that has ever been wrongly executed in this country. Thus, his argument has insufficient support to be considered valid.

Moreover, recent advances in DNA technology have virtually eliminated the potential for executing innocents. As former US Senator Orrin G. Hatch writes, "Advanced DNA testing guarantees the just and fair implementation of the death penalty. While reasonable people can differ about capital punishment, it is indisputable that advanced DNA testing ensures support and credibility to the accuracy and integrity of capital verdicts. In short, we are in a better position than ever before to ensure that only the guilty are executed. These recent technological advances, along with advances that will likely come in the future, render false convictions in capital cases virtually impossible, and we ought to be thankful for that." [1]

And even if some innocent people are executed, which clearly does not happen, the death penalty is still the pro-life position. This is because, in the long run, wrongful convictions are rare and offset by innocent lives that are saved. This brings me to the final point.


Make no mistake, Capital Punishment does deter crime. My opponent cited an article which noted a few circumstances in which this was not the case. However, there still exist a plethora of studies contradicting this, and there still exists a very strong negative correlation between executions and murders in this country, no matter the region or time period that is being evaluated. But regardless, the fundamental logic behind the deterrence argument has not been refuted. Thus, we can reasonably assume that some murders will be prevented.

I would also contend that Capital Punishment is the only true way to ensure that the most heinous of criminals do not murder again. History has shown us that, on hundreds of occasions, inmates serving life without parole in states without the death penalty have actually ended up murdering other inmates. The murder rate for those serving life without parole is 4.5 per 100,000 inmates. This means that there are likely to be about 3 prison murders per year commuted those serving LWOP, and approximately 150 murders in the last 5 decades. These murders would simply not happen if the most egregious inmates had been executed in the first place. [2]

Through deterring murders of innocent civilians, in combination with preventing murders of other inmates, Capital Punishment saves a significant number of lives each year - far more than the number of lives lost through any purported "false convictions." I affirm, Capital Punishment is the pro-life position.


Debate Round No. 2


My opponent states
Capital Punishment saves a significant number of lives each year - far more than the number of lives lost through any purported "false convictions......................These clearly weren't purported . As mentioned in my prior argument , the FACT is
that the 144 on the list WERE false convictions that we know of.

My opponent states
And even if some innocent people are executed, which clearly does not happen, the death penalty is still the pro-life position. This is because, in the long run, wrongful convictions are rare and offset by innocent lives that are saved. This brings me to the final point.

This is a laughable is essentially saying that the innocent that are executed are collateral damage and I guess as long as it isn't my opponent or a member of his family it is AOK

To state... even if some innocent people are executed, which clearly does not to exist in an
alternate reality. This is a list of 10 people that WE KNOW OF who were wrongfully executed

To say that executing people , and if some are innocent , so be it, is a pro life position makes zero sense.

Lastly , big words do not make you correct...there is a plethora of studies on both sides.....I am saying that even
if my opponent is correct that the death penalty is a deterrent it does not justify the possible execution of innocent

I respect but reject my opponents argument


Advances in DNA technology in the last decade have made false capital convictions "impossible" in the words of experts. My opponent completely ignores this.

My opponent mentions 10 people that have been wrongfully executed in the history of this country. All of these cases occured before the mid 2000s, when scientists began to make advances in DNA analysis for crime scenes. [1] Once again, ignored by my opponent.

I have established through real statistics and expert testimony that Capital Punishment has literally saved hundreds of innocent lives. I have established that it both deters murders, and saves inmates from being killed in prison. This has essentially not been refuted.

Extend all of my other points.

Thanks for reading.

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by televin 7 years ago
This was my first attempt at a debate on this site......I need to improve for sure....excellent job by my opponent
Posted by televin 7 years ago
James ......thanks for the post...I don't watch FOX News except for laughs........All I can use is MY definition of what pro life means to me......there is not a right definition IMHO

Mzha08 I would agree if I had not couched my point by mentioning the hundreds of folks on death row who were released when newer technology showed them to be innocent
Posted by JamesChance 7 years ago
I would debate this, but this has no logic argument when you mash your own definition of pro-life into something it is not. For the record, this is not me speaking, but I find it the only attention I should give. This so-called debate would become a lecture and upon conclusion any educated person would see the difference between pro-life and death penalty to be separate and have no weight on the topic of pro-choice over pro-life.

Some people need to stop watching FOX News...this would also help! ...just sayin'
Posted by mzhao8 7 years ago
This is a confusing topic to debate about. Being pro-life has nothing to do with crime and the death penalty.
Posted by brendanww2 7 years ago
Well this would be a great poll, the way its phrased is very bad. I also agree that you cannot be Pro-Life and support capital punishment
Posted by fauziinsan 7 years ago
sorry, i dont get what the motion mean
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: While Con made good arguments, he did not follow them up and seemed to get emotionally involved rather than attempting to follow the debate. While he makes a good case with the 10 innocent people who were executed, that may have been his only winning point in the debate. Overall Pro carried the burden of proof in this debate.

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