Our prayers on October 10th for an end to the death penalty must have been heard by God. You might have heard already that Governor Nixon halted the execution of Allen Nicklasson, because of concerns that would trigger a European ban on exports of propofol, thus leaving hospitals lacking a necessary anesthetic. Here is the text of a news release from Rita Linhardt, chair of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

“Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty applauds Governor Nixon’s decision today to halt the execution of Allen Nicklasson on Oct. 23rd because of concerns about the use of propofol as an execution drug. If the execution would have been carried out, Missouri would have been the first state in the nation to use propofol for executions. “We are grateful that Governor Nixon did not jeopardize the safety of countless Americans just to carry out this execution,” stated Rita Linhardt, Chair of MADP Board.”

In the weeks leading up to the governor’s decision, numerous concerns had been raised about using this popular anesthetic drug for executions. The European Union had threatened to limit the export of the drug into the U.S. if it was used for lethal injection. This raised alarm as over 85% of the U.S. supply of propofol used in surgeries comes from Europe. Realizing that hospitals and clinics could be severely impacted by the loss of propofol, the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists sent a letter in September to Governor Nixon strongly opposing the use of propofol in executions. The Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) had also come under fire for the way it acquired the propofol from a German company. Earlier this week Governor Nixon ordered the DOC to return the drug to the German Company. The DOC then planned to use a domestic supply of propofol it had on hand to carry out the execution, but eventually that Illinois company also requested that the drug be returned as the sale had not been authorized. In halting the execution Governor Nixon ordered the DOC to come up with a different way to perform lethal injections. “MADP continues to be opposed to all executions and hopes the DOC will not be able to find a suitable drug,” states Linhardt. “The experience with propofol clearly shows that drug manufacturers have ethical concerns about using their product for lethal injection.”