What Role Should Doctors Play In Executions?


Florida closely guards the identities of the people involved in executions, but perhaps none more so than the doctor, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The American Medical Association forbids doctors from almost any involvement in executions because it violates the tenet that doctors will not knowingly harm a patient. “If you sent your wife or child to a doctor you wouldn’t want them washing their hands from their last execution,” said AMA president Dr. William G. Plested III. “You might have some questions about how precious they think life is.”

After a botched Florida execution this month in which an inmate took 34 minutes to die, officials said a doctor made important decisions after the execution went awry. The doctor made the call to skip one drug as a second dose of the state’s lethal three-drug cocktail was released into the inmate’s body. Some bioethicists think states should train their own execution teams in the medical procedures needed for executions and leave doctors out of it. Some death penalty defense attorneys disagree, saying prison officials can’t be relied on. “This is a medical procedure, and we don’t have medical people doing it,” said Martin McClain, who has defended more than 100 death row inmates in Florida.

Link: http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/28/State/Ethics_clash_with_jus.shtml

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