Physician involvement in legal amputations and lethal injections
The case seems exotic, but it is not difficult to bring it closer to home. This week, there was a botched execution of a convicted murderer in the United States. What botched it, apparently, were the chemicals in the injection. Drugs of choice to dispatch convicts (such as sodium thiopental and pentobarbital) are in short supply, partly due to their ban by the European Union. So the botched execution was in essence a botched experiment. US federal law has all sorts of protections for prisoners when they are used in medical research, but when an experimental cocktail of drugs is administered with the intent of killing convicts, those protections fall by the wayside. Worse yet, in
17 US states with the death penalty, a physician is required to be present at such disturbing events. But it is not as if having a more effective means of killing would make the health care professional's involvement morally palatable. Medical professionals have no place in facilitating state-legitimated execution by injection, amputation or public stoning. If governments wish to savage their non-law abiding citizens, they should not be allowed to use medicine to legitimize what they are doing.