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Texas woman executed Wednesday

Suzanne Basso is only the 14th woman put to death in the U.S. since 1976.
The gurney in the death chamber in Huntsville, Texas.
The gurney in the death chamber in Huntsville, Texas.

A 59-year-old-woman was executed by lethal injection Wednesday in Texas amid controversy over whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Suzanne Basso is the 14th woman put to death since capital punishment resumed in 1976; nearly 1,400 men have been put to death. There are approximately 60 women currently on death row in the U.S.

Suzanne Basso

Basso was sentenced to death in 1998 for killing a mentally disabled man after prosecutors argued she lured the man to Texas from New Jersey with the promise of marriage. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stop her scheduled execution.

The state of Texas used a single drug rather than a three-drug cocktail that was used up until 2012, when export bans by drug manufacturers created massive shortages of the drugs. A report by The Guardian found that executions using the new method take on average twice as long as they did with the old method.

The lethal injection drug shortage has affected every state that uses this method of execution. The family of a man executed in Ohio last month is suing the state for violating his right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment after his 25-minute execution appeared to be excruciatingly painful. Another execution scheduled for Wednesday, this one in Louisiana, was postponed for three months for the state to review the drugs that are to be used.

Other states are considering alternative methods to avoid the drug shortage issue. The Virginia State Senate is expected to vote this week to make the electric chair the state’s default method of execution if lethal injection drugs cannot be found. Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe has not yet indicated whether he will sign or veto the bill.