E.U. ban limits U.S. access to death penalty drugs

January 20, 2012

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(AP/Kiichiro Sato)
The death penalty is legal in 34 states in the U.S.

Though the European Union is staunchly against the death penalty, it's been in the business of selling death penalty technology to the U.S. for the past two years. But that all changed a few weeks ago, when the E.U. signed legislation making it illegal to export certain death penalty drugs -- like sodium thiopental and pentobarbital -- to America.

The U.S. ranks among the highest worldwide in its rates of execution, along with North Korea, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. And with the U.S. already suffering from a shortage in lethal injection drugs, the E.U. just made it a lot more complicated to execute in America.

Sandra Babcock is the clinical director at the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Law School and runs a website called Death Penalty Worldwide. Sandra also helped push for the E.U.’s recent legislation. She joins us to explain how the ban might impact those sentenced to death in the United States.