Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Death Row Doctor

Death Row Doctor Defends Actions:

One of the core pillars of medicine is “do no harm.” So how do the physicians who take part in the American institution of capital punishment rationalize their involvement? This film profiles Carlo Musso, a doctor who contemplates his moral compass as he participates in executions, though he personally opposes capital punishment.
Watch the short film. Musso is a resident of Atlanta and apparently worked on executions in Georgia for almost 15 years (being attendant...let's remember protocols do forbid them from running lines, administering the drugs, etc. He is only present to pronounce the official death).

I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, Musso's intentions seem somewhat honorable. If the state is going to execute people, a physician should be on hand to ensure the process is as humane as possible and goes according the execution procedures laid out by the law.

On the other hand, his mere presence allows executions to continue. As the law is written, two physicians must be in attendance at all executions. So if they couldn't find an M.D. to show up...

What I like about the film is that it is balanced in its portrayal of the issue of capital punishment and doesn't seek to demonize those who carry out what are essentially orders of the court. While the death penalty is a dying anachronism from another era, it is still prevalent enough for us to keep our focus on its administration, and ensure that it is being done constitutionally and humanely, however long that might actually be.

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