This week, Teresa Lewis was executed by injection in the state of Virginia, a so-called "Pro Life" state. Lewis was the first woman to be put to death since 1912, in this state which has executed more people than any other state with the exception of Texas.
The Associated Press described Lewis's last moments this way:
"Lewis appeared fearful, her jaw clenched, as she was escorted into the death chamber. She glanced tensely around at 14 assembled corrections officials before being bound to a gurney with heavy leather straps.
Moments before her execution, Lewis asked if her husband's daughter — her stepdaughter — was near. Kathy Clifton was in an adjacent witness room blocked from the inmate's view by a two-way mirror.
"I want Kathy to know that I love her and I'm very sorry," Lewis said.
Then, as the drugs flowed into her body, her feet bobbed but she otherwise remained motionless. A guard lightly tapped her on the shoulder reassuringly as she slipped into death.
More than 7,300 appeals to stop the execution had been made to the governor in a state second only to Texas in the number of people it executes."
Lewis had been found guilty of paying off two hired gunmen to murder her husband and her stepson so she could collect on a $250,000 insurance policy. She plied the hired assassins with sex and a promise of a share in the insurance money. She has been described by attorneys and experts as mentally disabled and of borderline intelligence. In life, and in prison up until her execution, she was said to have a strong belief in God, and she had a reputation for singing hymns and praying aloud all her adult life. The two men who actually did the shooting did not get death sentences but life in prison. One subsequently committed suicide.
Teresa's attorney was quoted during her final hours as saying, "We thought that we were supposed to be helping her, while she was actually helping us." He said that in the days before her death, she laughed, sang and prayed — for everybody.
Virginia is a "Pro Life" state with a prominently touted "respect for human life" and a rigid rejection of all women's right to choose where reproductive freedom is concerned. Governor Bob Mc Donnell is a staunch anti-abortion lawmaker, and in the Virginia legislature, the House is designated anti-choice while the state Senate gets a mixed-choice ranking by NARAL. That pro-choice lobby also gives the state of Virginia an "F" grade for reproductive freedom.
In Washington, Virginia's congressional delegation consists of 2 pro-choice US Senators and 6 out of 11 Representatives who oppose abortion rights because of their alleged, "respect for human life."
Apparently the life of a fetus is of greater concern to all these lawmakers than the life of 41-year-old Teresa Lewis, who committed a heinous crime, but also paid the highest price in a state that would rather kill her than give her a life sentence.
The biblical "eye for an eye" has too often been misinterpreted as "a life for a life" by the very groups in the USA who claim to value human life. Of the more than 7300 appeals made to Governor Mc Connell to stop this execution, some came from international levels as high as the European Union where the death penalty has long been abandoned as archaic, uncivilized and wrong while abortion rights have been granted-- even in Catholic countries like Italy, seat of the Vatican.
The contradiction between support for fetal rights and the rejection of the "right to life" for adult human beings guilty of crimes has always been a puzzlement.
The execution of Teresa Lewis is just one more reminder of how selective, hypocritical and misogynistic the anti-choice lobby and its political and religious leaders can be.
________________photo: NY Daily News