Missouri’s governor halted a coming execution in the face of fierce opposition from doctors across the country to the state’s plan to use a lethal injection containing an anesthetic used widely in medical procedures.
The state had intended to use propofol, a drug that has never been used for capital punishment, for the Oct. 23 execution of Allen Nicklasson, who was convicted of killing a man who stopped to help him after his car broke down in 1994.
But the plan risked triggering European Union curbs on the drug’s export, raising alarm among doctors they could lose access to a medication used in 80% of procedures requiring anesthesia, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
“My interest is in making sure justice is served and public health is protected,” said Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, on Friday. He said he ordered the Department of Corrections to come up with a different form of lethal injection and that the state attorney general would request a new execution date for Mr. Nicklasson. The governor’s office and the corrections department didn’t return calls for comment.
Missouri is one of many states struggling to find drugs suitable for lethal injections, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. So far, 29 of 30 executions nationwide this year have been lethal injections, according to Mr. Dieter’s group.
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