US carries out its 1st execution of female inmate since 1953

FILE - This undated file image provided by Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery shows Lisa Montgomery. An appeals court granted a stay of execution Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, for Montgomery, convicted of killing a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her womb in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. (Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery via AP, File)
FILE - This undated file image provided by Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery shows Lisa Montgomery. An appeals court granted a stay of execution Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, for Montgomery, convicted of killing a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her womb in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. (Attorneys for Lisa Montgomery via AP, File)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – A Kansas woman was executed Wednesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the U.S. government has put to death a female inmate.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner executed at the facility since July when President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.

As a curtain was raised in the execution chamber, Montgomery looked momentarily bewildered as she glanced at journalists peering at her from behind thick glass. A woman standing over her shoulder leaned over, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked if she had any last words.

“No,” Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.

One of Montgomery’s lawyers, Amy Harwell, expressed surprise that Montgomery’s spiritual adviser wasn’t inside the chamber. An official told her Montgomery didn’t want the spiritual adviser there.

“I insisted that she did — as I was present when (the spiritual adviser) discussed with her his plan to sing ‘Jesus Loves You’ to her while the chemicals flowed,” Harwell said.

Harwell said that since Montgomery was still alive and the spiritual adviser still in the building, it should have been easy to arrange for him to enter. But the guard said it was too late to arrange.

Asked about Harwell's account, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said the spiritual adviser was “afforded an opportunity” to be inside the chamber.