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Reason to Live

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/John Minchillo

What would it take to come together to form some kind of consistent commitment to life in the United States?

When former Vice President Mike Pence recently announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for president, he talked about his commitment to the protection of innocent human life during a town hall on CNN. He's the real deal when it comes to opposing abortion, but his commitment goes beyond that. He talked about adoption, as he frequently did as vice president, and even said he wouldn't stop at paid family leave in efforts to help families flourish. Bravo.


But things changed when the topic moved on to mass shootings. I was grateful Pence talked about the need to take mental health policy seriously. But that wasn't his first response. His initial answer involved expedited executions for mass shooters. When moderator Dana Bash pushed him on that, he insisted it could be a deterrent. Perhaps.

I was in a mall one crazy night in New Jersey some years ago when a shooting incident occurred. Mercifully, the person with the gun didn't kill anyone but himself in the end. But in the press interviews with friends and family that followed the tragedy, it became clear that the young man was depressed. He'd wanted to die.

There's obviously a debate to be had about justice and deterrence. But one of the things that alarmed me about Pence's response was that it takes away from his ability to win people over to the pro-life cause. As a fellow pro-lifer, that might be one of the primary things on my mind as we approach the first anniversary of the end of Roe v. Wade. Pro-lifers beliece that human life is a treasure. Religious people see each life as made in the image and likeness of God. We live at a time where so many people seem to not believe their lives have value. How can another's life have value if you don't even think your own does? And isn't it radical -- in the tradition of Scripture -- to believe that even a murderer's life has value?


It often seems nearly impossible to have a conversation about abortion without everyone falling into their entrenched positions. Even the mere fact that Pence was talking to Republican primary voters on CNN was odd in a way. CNN is surely not many Republicans' preferred source of news. But appearing on CNN meant that Pence had the opportunity to talk to pro-choice Americans and have them consider the pro-life pitch.

What I'm suggesting is that, even as we're getting into another campaign season, it doesn't matter what you think about Mike Pence or President Biden or any other candidate. Consider life. I'm against abortion. I'm against the death penalty. Some of you agree with me on the former, but not on the latter. It would do a world of good if we had more conversations together, and worked toward some common cause. Can we insist that women be truly informed of their options when they are pregnant and unsure what to do about it? Can we make it easier for people of all classes and beliefs to adopt children who need homes?

This June, while we read about a former president's indictments and cough on Canadian wildfire smoke, maybe we can think through and talk over how we can leave a better legacy than anger.

Expedited executions aren't so much the answer as seeing the person in front of us and accompanying them in their travails. The answer lies in helping people find a reason to live so they do not take the lives of others.


(Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book "A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living." She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan's pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary. She can be contacted at


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