As far back as the birth of America there have been executions of all imaginable types used to punish the undesirables of society. There were executions such as lynching and utilizing a fire squad to execute the individual. The thought of this type of punishment being performed in this century would be horrific. America has come a long way in incorporating more humane punishments when certain members of society cannot obey the "rules." One cannot help to think if the present ultimate punishment, lethal injection, is justifiable. When it comes to punishing the criminal, according to the crime committed, members of society are the ones that decide if he or she must spend time in prison or be executed. Capital punishment is and has always been a controversial topic.
With issues to consider, such as the moral of this action and who is justified in terminating a human life, the issues are not easily resolved. Recently, this issue has become even more controversial because there is a possibility that registered physicians might be willing to assist in executions. As it stands right now physicians are not involved in the execution process but it might soon become a reality that they can or will be involved. Should Americans let a physician get involved in aiding the execution of a criminal? No, this should never be allowed to happen.
Currently, the American Medical Association condemns any active participation by a physician in an execution. This is because there are written medical honor codes and oaths that prohibit this type of action. Our American legislature should never allow a physician to be involved in such an act because it is not medically necessary, a criminals life should not be measured by what is the most economic way to execute, and a physicians primary duty is to assist in bettering the health of a human being not terminate his or her life. According to the recent survey in which 413 out of 1, 000 physicians responded, more than half said they would be involved in some type of aid in an execution (Associated Press.
) This survey comes as a surprise. For one thing, all registered physicians should be fully aware that abiding in an execution is not permitted by the medical societies. Only 3% of the physicians surveyed knew that participation in a execution was prohibited, the rest of the correspondents "was willing to participate in at least one execution." (Associated Press) It is true that physicians are always present at executions, but these are physicians that are specifically assigned by the Department of Corrections to supervise and assist should something go wrong with the injections. They are the exception. It is not necessary for other physicians (other than the one assigned by the Corrections Department) to volunteer or want to participate. The reason? A physician is not really needed in an active participation of an execution.
"The techniques, the drugs, the equipment work quite as well in the hands of others-it's not brain surgery" (Suicides and Executions). Specific correction personnel trained and suited for this type of punishment have handled executions all along. Why should this change? Presently all states that have the execution punishment are required by law to have a registered state appointed physician present in an execution. This is done in case there is a problem with the execution procedure being performed, be it via lethal injection or the electric chair. Another reason why the physician needs to be present is to confirm the death of the condemned.
With this information known one must ask why would it be necessary for another physician to be involved in any process of the execution death. A certified physician is already there. The only thought that comes to mind when an un appointed physician wants to participate is the they are curious and it would probably be a good adrenaline rush. Physicians would not be doing it for the money because they would not get paid.
A physicians place is not in the execution chambers. The value of life can not be bargained through cheap exit procedures. For example, during the 1970's in the state of Oklahoma, the electric chair was left unused because it's equipment was presumed deteriorated. When the state requested an estimate for the repairs, the estimate came out to 64, 000 dollars. While this annoyed one state senator, the state examiner joked with him and advised that anesthesia may be a cheaper option. He mentioned to him that with the first execution in the state of Maryland, the anesthesia equipment ran around 75.
00, alot less than 64, 000 dollars. Of course the senator opted for the cheapest and simplest method of execution. "He consulted with the professor of anesthesiology at the University of Oklahoma and in 1979 professor Stanley Deutsch M. D. replied with a careful letter about how anesthetics might be used for execution" (Egbert). A short acting barbiturate thiopental used to put the prisoner asleep followed by a muscle relaxant.
" During those years many states had been rewriting there laws concerning capital crimes so that the laws would pass must and before the Supreme Court, Oklahoma was one such state" (Egbert). According to him, this method of execution was more humane and way less expensive than the electric chair. But is this right? Does it make it justifiable because it is cheaper to execute a prisoner in this way. The value of life can not and should not be bargained in this way.
A physician takes an oath to better the health and aide in the longevity of a human being. For this a physician should not be involved in such a procedure. A physician has always been looked upon by society as a humanitarian. A person who has chosen a path to care and better the health of his or her neighbor. A doctor never sees the race, color of skin, or gender of the person he is treating. For these reasons, it is quite perturbing to know the results of the A.
M. A. survey. The results that suggest that there are many physicians out there who would be willing to be involved in some form in a scheduled death. Aren't these physicians learning about their main duties thoroughly? If the physicians responded to the survey can't remember to honor the codes of the medical society, then it is the responsibility of our legislative system to " remind " all physicians that our thinking of participating that there licenses will be revoked. There is currently a proposed bill in writing that would terminate a physician's practice should they be involved in an execution.
The bill formerly " requires the Board of Healing Art to automatically revoke the license of a physician who is found guilty... for assisting in a suicide" (Bennett e). In conclusion, all physicians who responded to the survey and all those considering involvement in an execution should immediately reread the code of ethics of the medical societies. As stated before, there is no need for a volunteer physician to attend an execution. Instead they should focus on helping somebody in need of medical attention. They should let the trained professionals handle the executions.
It has always been done this way without any problems or assistance, so why should a physician get involved? The fact that prison commit ies are constantly trying to find a cost effective way to execute the condemned is already degrading to the value of human life. Physicians should stay where they belong and are most needed. Their volunteer time is not wanted or needed in the chamber room.