Of Ethics and ExecutionsFrom the latest Australasian Bioethics newsletter comes a tale of two anaesthetists.
It seems that they are suffering a crisis of conscience in regards to the execution of a man sentenced to death, and this has postponed the carrying out of his sentence:
A Federal judge recently ruled that the State must ensure that Michael Morales is unconscious when a lethal injection is given. So the prison organised two anaesthetists in addition to the doctor who would pronounce him dead. However, the two anaesthetists realised that if something were to go wrong, they would have to intervene in the execution, not just ensure that he was asleep when prison officials injected lethal drugs.
"Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical," the two nameless doctors said in a written statement. "As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process." Morales was due to be executed on Tuesday at 12.01am, but the doctors' refusal now means that the execution will be delayed for at least a month.
This snafu has rekindled debate about the participation of American doctors in executions. Of the 38 American states which allow executions, all but one use lethal injections. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Medical Association have all condemned involvement in executions as unethical and unprofessional.
I guess there's only one solution.
Time to bring back the firing squad.