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Tuesday, February 21st 2006

Physician Assisted Execution

Okay, not quite physician assisted execution but this is pretty weird. How did I not here about this ruling by a federal judge that a physician be on hand for a California execution that was to take place last night, or the execution would violate the 8th Amendment?

The exact wording of the judge’s order was not immediately available, but the anesthesiologists issued a statement through the prison saying they were concerned about a requirement that they intervene in the event that Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain.

“Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical,” said the doctors, who have not been identified. “As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process.”

The American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Medical Association all opposed the anesthesiologists’ participation as unethical and unprofessional.

Prison officials rescheduled the execution for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and said they would employ a different technique: administering a fatal overdose of barbiturate in lieu of the three-drug cocktail typically used in lethal injections.

Morales’ attorneys had argued that the three-part lethal injection cocktail used in California and 35 other states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. They said a prisoner would feel excruciating pain from the last two chemicals if he were not fully sedated.

[Federal Judge] Fogel refused to derail the execution. But he gave prison officials two options: retain the doctors to ensure Morales would be properly anesthetized, or forgo the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs and overdose him on a sedative. With the anesthesiologists withdrawing, prison officials said they would use the second option.

Arguments that lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment have been shot down for years by the courts, so I’m wondering what new enlightening information was this judge presented with that prompted this kind’ve bizarre ruling?

By the way I’m against the death penalty (unless the victim was someone I cared for).

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