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October 30, 2014

"Physicians, Medical Ethics, and Execution by Lethal Injection"

The title of this post is the title of this new article by I. Glenn Cohen, Robert Truog, and Mark Rockoff available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In the wake of the recent botched execution by lethal injection in Oklahoma, a group of eminent legal professionals known as the Death Penalty Committee of The Constitution Project issued a set of recommendations for sweeping legal and administrative reforms of this method of capital punishment.  This Article discusses the Committee’s recommendation that medical personnel perform the medically-related elements of lethal injection executions.  Noting that such involvement is prohibited by the codes of medical ethics of professional societies in every medical profession, this Article argues that significant ethical concerns dictate that medical professionals should refuse to participate in lethal injection executions.

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October 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

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The SSRN page does not provide download, but see here:

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1874217 [the audio goes past the one page preview]

At one point, there is a concern about making a lethal injection a "medical procedure." But, that basically on some level is seen as its value. It is seen as a "humane" method of execution in large part that it is more medical than older methods like hanging or shooting people.

Some have suggested it would be more humane to use other methods (particularly inert gas or shooting) though there are issues with these too. Anyway, to the degree it confuses "medicine" with involuntary punishments [the "involuntary" aspect putting aside the issue of euthanasia] and is problematically imposed in part because its medical aspects are more dangerous without medical professionals, the op-ed here provides another grounds to support alternative execution mechanisms, if that is, we execute at all.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 30, 2014 12:48:23 PM

You may all ignore medical ethics. The AMA is a left wing Ivy grad dominated organization betraying patient interest, doctors' real interest, and certainly, the public interest. Think of the ABA, but on steroids. Doctor rent seeking is 100 times as pernicious as lawyer rent seeking.

Remember how the lawyer traitor reversed the mandatory guidelines that dropped crime 40%?

Around the same time, the aggressive management of hypertension prevented the damage of many organs n millions of people. The result, 50% occupancy of hospital beds in NYC, and actual unprecedented internist unemployment. Along comes AIDS. Correct chronic disease that takes years to ill, not days as in Ebola. Correct people, correct lifestyle, correct cost of death. Ebola by contrast is too fast to generate income. The result? 110% occupancy, and no more doctor unemployment. Draconian confidentiality rules, and no tracing, no quarantines. Contrast to Cuba, with ordinary tracing, ordinary quarantine camp. No AIDS in Cuba. Meanwhile, back here, $billions in cost, AIDS spreads to 40 million people.

History will judge these doctors and their organizations harshly. Those may be ignored, being abominations of rent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 30, 2014 10:52:27 PM

Hippocratic Oath ban poison but also ban the abortion. These gentlemen are in their right to oppose capital punishment but as abortion and euthanasia are legal only hypocrites would prohibit physicians participate in judicial executions. The Oath by Hippocrates "I will give no deadly medicine to Any one if Asked, nor Suggest any such counsel; and in like Manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion".

Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 1, 2014 3:30:19 AM

The original Hippocratic Oath also says: "I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons" and other things, including an appeal to Apollo.

Its current form is different and according to a cite in Wikipedia it isn't even used by around half of those in Britain. Here is a form of the modern oath: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/hippocratic-oath-today.html#modern

Roe v. Wade also talks about the oath and notes in its original form that it only reflected the philosophical and ethical sentiments of certain physicians as applied to that subject. It also should be noted that taking the original absolutely, it would not even have an exception for for a compelling health reason.

I reckon if we take the previous comment seriously the only "hypocrites" perhaps would be those who somehow participate in abortions who refuse to take part in capital punishment.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 1, 2014 1:30:27 PM

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