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Governor Ducey discusses ethical dilemmas of abortion laws, executions

Posted at 7:44 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 08:30:04-04

PHOENIX — Arizona prepares for its first execution in eight years at the same time some lawmakers are challenging the governor on how to manage the state's multiple laws restricting abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned.

Some are asking: Can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty?

Convicted murderer Clarence Dixon is scheduled to be executed on May 11 and Governor Doug Ducey is not about to help him.

"I took an oath to uphold the constitution and enforce the law. That's the law in Arizona and it will be enforced," said Governor Ducey.

Dixon was convicted of murdering ASU student Deana Bowdin in 1978. DNA linked him to the crime in 2001. Barring a last-minute stay from the Arizona Supreme Court, Dixon will be executed.

Referring to him as "the inmate," Leslie Bowdin James, the victim's sister, told the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency that Dixon does not deserve mercy.

"There is not one legal, social or moral imperative for recommending reprieve or commutation of this inmate's death sentence," James said.

The Governor, who proudly states that he has signed every pro-life bill that's arrived on his desk, makes a distinction between abortion and capital punishment.

"When I talk about pro-life, I talk about the innocence of life at birth," the Governor said. "What you are talking about is justice. That is coming 40 years delayed to families that suffered enormous grief at the hands of murderers."

"I've been having those conversations for 20 years," says Valena Beety, the Deputy Director of Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law's Academy for Justice. Beety says as a legal matter, ethical considerations balancing pro-life and pro-death penalty fall to the states.

"Our laws are supposed to represent the ethics and morals of our community. They're supposed to be a representation of what we value in society," says Beety.

Governor Ducey says he believes the death penalty is appropriate in certain situations. The case of Clarence Dixon is one of them.

Dixon's attorneys argue Dixon is mentally incompetent and executing him violates the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. A judge ruled Wednesday that Dixon is psychologically fit to be executed.

There are 24 people, including Dixon, on Arizona's death row who have exhausted all of their appeals.

Frank Atwood, who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 8-year-old, is among them. He is scheduled to be executed June 8.