This week the Senate Democrats argued vehemently on the Senate floor against essentially allowing Virginia to execute convicted murderers by alternate methods if the drug used for lethal injection was unavailable. The legislation arose because it is proving difficult for the Commonwealth to obtain the drugs needed for executions which have already been scheduled. Capital punishment in Virginia is reserved for the worst of the worst offenders. Examples of the heinous murders committed by inmates on death row were described in ghastly detail on the floor to underscore the monstrous nature of their crimes.

Regardless of where one stands on the appropriateness of capital punishment, everyone must agree that the acts committed that warrant it under law are nothing short of evil. But what was very revealing about many members’ impassioned pleas for the life of the guilty was not primarily a disagreement about the merits of state executions. Most significantly, it was that these very same members were among those who consistently stand up to vehemently fight for the so-called right to end the life of the innocent! 

The question those who stood in opposition to the death penalty have to answer is: why don’t unborn lives matter too? Or is it only when the state is involved that you oppose killing a person? If that’s the case, then why don’t you support making sure that we taxpaying citizens are not forced to pay for abortions with our state funds? Ironically, there was a bill which did just that – HB 1090 – taken up for a floor vote on the very same day which many argued so desperately against capital punishment for convicted serial-murderers! Did any of those who opposed capital punishment for the convicted guilty vote for HB 1090 in order to protect the defenseless innocent? No. Not a one.

Not only is that the height of inconsistency, but it is the heart of inhumanity. How so? Because when we fail to properly distinguish between the necessity of punishing those who unjustifiably take life and the sacred duty of protecting innocent life from unjustifiable termination, we have exited the realm of humanity and entered the land of barbarity.     

Thankfully, a bare majority (21-19) of the Senate and a large majority of the House (64-35) voted to protect innocent life and to promote the best healthcare for women as furthered by HB 1090. This was a significant victory for life, but as was demonstrated, there are still many hearts and minds to be won in the battle to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us.