Aleteia

This Is How We End the Death Penalty

Thomas Hawk
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Most of the developed world has already abolished the practice. We can do it, too – and here’s how you can help.

My wife and I were thrilled to travel to Washington D.C. for the March for Life in January. Jackie was nearly eight months pregnant, which made us quasi-celebrities for the day among all the chants celebrating babies. One of my favorite parts about being Catholic, though, is that our concern for life does not stop with pregnancy, but continues until natural death. Not long after returning from the march, a close friend of mine told me about the dangerous drugs that caused Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire to suffer for 24 minutes before dying in January. As a response, she was pushing to end the death penalty in the United States and was seeking ways of getting Catholics involved in the effort. I’m excited to share this initiative with you, and hope you’ll join me in the cause.

Here’s how it works: most states only allow lethal injections as a form of execution. Other methods – hanging, for one – are banned, and some methods, like using poison gas, would require expensive building projects (the Missouri legislature has already balked at spending $1 million to build a gas chamber). If we could stop the flow of lethal injection drugs, states would be more likely to avoid unsavory public relations moves and instead stop the execution of inmates. The good news? This is already beginning to happen.

The U.S. has traditionally gotten the drugs to execute prisoners from pharmaceutical groups in Europe. Anti-death penalty organizations in Europe have convinced the pharmaceutical companies to prohibit use of their drugs in execution, so the U.S. is looking for solutions. Doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. already refuse to participate in executions, so now a small group of “compound pharmicists” are making drugs that are not regulated by the FDA. These same drugs were the cause of Ohio prisoner Dennis McGuire’s 24 minutes of torture. What can we do? Ask the American Pharmaceutical Association to ban its members from participating in executions. Because doctors and nurses are already banned by their own associations from participating in executions, we’ll make a giant leap toward ending the death penalty in the United States.

You can sign this petition, or you can contact the American Pharmaceutical Association directly. Whatever happens, we can be proud that, as Catholics, we unwaveringly stand for life from conception to natural death.

Anthony Baratta is a 25-year-old writer and newly married husband who left seminary to become Catholic in March of 2012. Read more about Anthony’s journey at his blog on Facebook and Twitter.