European Opposition Is Causing U.S. Shortage Of Death Penalty Drugs


Europe’s fierce hostility to capital punishment is a big reason the U.S. has a dearth of execution drugs so acute that some states are considering solutions such as firing squads and gas chambers, the Associated Press reports. It started nine years ago when the EU banned the export of products used for execution, citing its goal to be the “leading institutional actor and largest donor to the fight against the death penalty.” Beefed up European rules mean the results are being most strongly felt in the U.S. now, with shortages becoming chronic and gruesome executions making headlines.

In Ohio last month, Dennis McGuire took 26 minutes to die after a previously untested mix of chemicals began flowing into his body. On Jan. 9, Oklahoma inmate Michael Lee Wilson’s last words were: “I feel my whole body burning.” The dilemma grabbed national attention this week when an Oklahoma pharmacy agreed to refrain from supplying an execution drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for a lethal injection. Inmate Michael Taylor’s argued in a lawsuit that executions involving the drug pentobarbital would likely cause “inhumane pain.” Ahead of a hearing set for today, The Apothecary Shoppe said it would not provide the drug.

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