Everything’s bigger in Texas… including, unfortunately, hypocrisy. In the past year, Texas has seen major progress in its laws protecting the lives of preborn children. But it has made no analogous progress on the death penalty, and as a result, the inconsistency in Texas’ treatment of the right to life has grown larger.
We’ve written before about anti-abortion support for the death penalty. While I disagree with that position, I grant that the distinction they’re making—that abortion ends innocent lives—isn’t ridiculous.
But here’s what is ridiculous, and unconscionable: Texas is scheduled to execute Scott Panetti, a man who almost certainly should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The Dallas Morning News recently published an editorial on the subject by none other than Abby Johnson. Johnson, as you probably know, is a former Planned Parenthood abortion worker who famously quit her job and blew the whistle on a range of misdeeds, including Medicaid fraud and abortion quotas. Her memoir, Unplanned, is on many a pro-lifer’s bookshelf (including mine!). She now runs an organization dedicated to helping abortion workers leave the industry. And while I realize that what I’m about to say isn’t really measurable, I’m going to just go ahead and declare that Abby Johnson is the most famous pro-lifer in Texas.
And she’s using her powerful voice to speak out on Mr. Panetti’s behalf, calling for his death sentence to be commuted to life in prison:
Leading mental health experts have said that, if the execution of Panetti goes forward, it would be “a miserable spectacle.” I could not agree more. Panetti does not even understand why he is being executed. He believes that Satan, using the state of Texas as his agent, is trying to execute him for preaching the Gospel while in prison.
The execution of Panetti would be more than an embarrassment to our state. It would undermine our commitment to protecting life, especially the most vulnerable, by extinguishing the life of someone clearly suffering from mental illness.
The editorial is worth reading in its entirety. And while Johnson doesn’t name names, I will. Panetti’s fate is initially held in the hands of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, appointed by the governor. If the Board recommends commuting the sentence, Panetti’s fate will then be in the hands of the governor himself: presidential hopeful Rick Perry.
Gov. Perry, the pro-life community is watching.