Sunday, May 2, 2010

Primum non nocere

First, Do No Harm: ABA To Censure Physicians Who Play a Role in Lethal Injections.

A national physicians organization has quietly decided to revoke the certification of any member who participates in executing a prisoner by lethal injection.

The mandate from the American Board of Anesthesiologists reflects its leaders' belief that "we are healers, not executioners," board secretary Mark A. Rockoff said. Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists' group is the first to say it will harshly penalize a health-care worker for abetting lethal injections. The loss of certification would prevent an anesthesiologist from working in most hospitals.

Predictably, the push-back from the pro-death penalty side was quick and immediate.

While death penalty opponents welcome the move because it raises yet more questions about lethal injections, capital punishment supporters contend that doctors are not needed during the procedures, which can be administered by prison employees.

Some death penalty supporters said nurses or emergency medical technicians are well-equipped to perform executions.

"Some think it's an effective argument to say you need a doctor to do this," said Michael Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty. "You don't need a doctor to do this. It's a counterfeit argument."

Damn straight. Maybe if we go back to shootin' people, we can do away with lethal injection entirely.

Once upon a time we may have needed doctors on-hand for lethal injections, but given the change over to the single drug barbiturate, their services may no longer be required.

Executions were halted in the United States from 2007 until 2008 until the Supreme Court decided in a Kentucky case that a commonly used three-drug cocktail did not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Now Ohio and Washington state have started using one anesthetic, similar to animal euthanasia.
I wonder what the American Veterinary Medical Association's position is on this? Perhaps we could just send in the Vets to take care of these "animals."

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Finally a lesson we can learn from Utah: Save a Doctor, hire a firing squad.