Opinion: Alabama’s antiabortion governor urges respect for life, will oversee a 7th execution

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey cited "every life" as a "sacred gift from God" as she signed into a law a near-total state ban on abortions. So why is she overseeing such a horrid death penalty system?
(Blake Paterson / Associated Press)

When Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed that state’s obnoxious new bill criminalizing abortion Wednesday afternoon, she offered a little toast to victory on Twitter.

Or maybe we should call it a partial victory, since the ban was enacted as a ploy to try to get the right to abortion, affirmed in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, back before the retooled conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.


Apparently, Ivey’s not averse to returning some of God’s sacred gifts, since as governor she’s overseeing the planned execution tonight of Michael Brandon Samra, who was 19 years old when he took part in the quadruple murder of the family of a friend angered by the father’s refusal to let him borrow a pickup truck. The ringleader, who was 15 at the time of the crimes, is serving life in prison.

In fact, since Ivey assumed office two years ago last month, Alabama has executed six other men, including convicted serial bomber Walter Moody who, at 83, became the oldest person executed in the nation’s history when he was strapped onto the gurney last year.

Earlier this year, the state executed Domineque Ray after the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay when Ivey’s government denied the condemned Muslim inmate access to an imam in the death chamber, although it does provide a Christian chaplain.

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Although California has the nation’s largest death row with 735 condemned inmates, Alabama has the highest per capita rate of death sentences.

And six weeks after she was sworn into office, Ivey signed into law a measure shortening the appeals process for capital offense, a move that makes it more likely the state will execute the innocent.


So much for Ivey’s notion that the new abortion ban “stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

Or maybe the asterisk after “every” didn’t come through on Twitter.

But she doubled down in a statement released after the signing, saying that “we must give every person the best chance for a quality life and a promising future.”

No asterisk there, either.

If Ivey had the courage of her convictions, she would use her authority as governor to grant clemency to Samra and the other 181 people facing execution in Alabama.

That act would resonate much more widely and humanely than does her signature on an abortion ban that she acknowledged is likely unenforceable.

And it would remove the cloud of hypocrisy hovering over Montgomery.