"With lethal injection drugs unavailable, Texas should reconsider the death penalty," is the title of an OpEd by Chuck Matula in today's Daily Texan, the UT Austin school paper.
Despite the popularity of the practice within the state, the death penalty has its critics abroad, and opposition to lethal injection has thrown obstacles in its way as of late. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Aug. 1 that, due to voluntary lethal injection drug embargoes by European manufacturers, it is running out of pentobarbital, the drug Texas and several other states use in capital punishment. A new source has yet to be found. This raises the question: Should Texas proceed with its scheduled executions despite the dearth of the required drugs?
Whether the death penalty is objectively ethical in any circumstance is a complex question I feel unqualified trying to answer. However, the drying up of lethal injection drug sources around the world is a signal of a moral shift that Texas and the other 31 states should heed. When South Africa failed to adjust its apartheid policies in the 1980s to align with shifting global opinions on civil rights, it ended in an embarrassing embargo by the United Nations and left the country’s leaders looking like anachronistic oligarchs.
If pharmaceutical companies are forgoing profits to avoid the negative associations that come with Texas’ eager use of capital punishment, as the Time Magazine piece reported, Texas needs to reassess its use of the death penalty instead of blithely pressing on with all scheduled executions.