Friday, February 17, 2006

AMA Opposes Physician Involvement in Executions

CHICAGO, Feb. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a
statement by Priscilla Ray, M.D., chair, American
Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial
Affairs, regarding physician involvement in

"The American Medical Association (AMA) is alarmed
that Judge Jeremy Fogel has disregarded physicians'
ethical obligations when he ordered procedures for
physician participation in executions of California
inmates by lethal injection.

"The AMA Code of Medical Ethics addresses physician
participation in executions involving lethal
injection. These ethical obligations are set out in
detail in ethical opinion 2.06 authored by the AMA
Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. In part, it

An individual's opinion on capital punishment is the
personal moral decision of the individual. A
physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to
preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should
not be a participant in a legally authorized
execution. Physician participation in execution is
defined generally as actions which would fall into one
or more of the following categories:

(1) an action which would directly cause the death of
the condemned;

(2) an action which would assist, supervise, or
contribute to the ability of another individual to
directly cause the death of the condemned;

(3) an action which could automatically cause an
execution to be carried out on a condemned prisoner.

Physician participation in an execution includes, but
is not limited to, the following actions: prescribing
or administering tranquilizers and other psychotropic
agents and medications that are part of the execution
procedure; monitoring vital signs on site or remotely
(including monitoring electrocardiograms); attending
or observing an execution as a physician; and
rendering of technical advice regarding execution.

In the case where the method of execution is lethal
injection, the following actions by the physician
would also constitute physician participation in
execution: selecting injection sites; starting
intravenous lines as a port for a lethal injection
device; prescribing, preparing, administering, or
supervising injection drugs or their doses or types;
inspecting, testing, or maintaining lethal injection
devices; and consulting with or supervising lethal
injection personnel.

"The use of a physician's clinical skill and judgment
for purposes other than promoting an individual's
health and welfare undermines a basic ethical
foundation of medicine -- first, do no harm.
Therefore, requiring physicians to be involved in
executions violates their oath to protect lives and
erodes public confidence in the medical profession.

"As the voice of American medicine, the AMA urges all
physicians to remain dedicated to our ethical
obligations which prohibit involvement in capital


EDITOR'S NOTE: For a full text of the AMA ethical
opinion, E- 2.06, Capital Punishment, please visit the
AMA Web site at:


/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/


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