Missouri's governor on Friday halted what was to have been the first execution in the United States to use the anesthetic propofol, following threats from the European Union to limit export of the drug if it was used to carry out the death penalty.
Gov. Jay Nixon also ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a different way to perform lethal injections without propofol, the leading anesthetic used in America's hospitals and clinics. Nearly 90 percent of America's propofol is imported from Europe.
"As governor, my interest is in making sure justice is served and public health is protected," Nixon said in a statement. "That is why, in light of the issues that have been raised surrounding the use of propofol in executions, I have directed the Department of Corrections that the execution of Allen Nicklasson, as set for October 23, will not proceed."
Nixon, a Democrat and staunch supporter of the death penalty, did not specifically mention the EU threat in his brief statement. Nixon was Missouri's longtime attorney general before he was first elected governor in 2008. During his 16 years as attorney general, 59 men were executed.