Today’s court ruling setting South Dakota’s first execution in 59 years jsut two weeks from now could pose some interesting questions for the pro-life movement in South Dakota, particularly Catholics.
The court order allows Elijah Page to be executed at the South Dakota Penitentiary the week of August 28. Page pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and brutal beating death of Chester Poage and received the death penalty. His death sentence was affirmed (lengthy PDF file) by the Supreme Court in January and Page sent a handwritten letter (PDF file) to the judge, his attorneys and the news media anouncing that he did not want to pursue any further appeals. The ruling determined Page was competent to make that decision.
What makes this a bit more interesting is that Gov. Mike Rounds, who signed the abortion ban legislation, is not only pro-life, he is also a Catholic. Although it does not appear a formal statement has been isused by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, it’s Catholic Advocate Network posted a notice online on July 31 asking Catholics to contact Gov. Rounds and “request that he intercede and prevent the execution of Elijah Page.” A link to the “action alert” appears on the Diocese’s “Respect Life” web page, which is generally devoted to anti-abortion issues.
It will be interesting to see not only how he reacts, but also the response of those who pushed and supported the abortion ban on the basis of respect for life.
As a society, we must seek solutions to crime that respect the dignity of every human life, including the hardened criminal, and preserve justice in this state through non-violent means.
Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls “Action Alert” on Elijah Page