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Should Medical Professionals Participate in Executions?
By David B. Waisel MD
A physician’s role in an execution may more correctly be interpreted as acting as an agent of the inmate to achieve his goals of a painless death. The physician will prioritize the inmate’s comfort throughout the process.
David B. Waisel MD
Botched lethal injections needlessly hurt the condemned. Because the immediately recognizable benefits of permitting physicians to participate in lethal injection far outweigh the vaguely theoretical risks, organized medicine has an obligation to permit physician participation in legal execution to the extent necessary to ensure a good death.
The Need for Physician Participation
Assuming that capital punishment proceeds regardless of physician participation, the arguments favoring participation to minimize suffering are straightforward.
- The state-sanctioned punishment is death, not suffering.
- Human error causes botched executions. The condemned suffer.1
- Problems associated with botched executions — including difficulty obtaining, maintaining and evalua
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