Mr John Hood, writing for the John Locke Society, is too big for his breeches. Judge Stephens ignores reality is stating that an execution is not a “medical event”. A medical gurney is used—or an operating table: it is designed for no other purpose. Medical tubing is used; it has no other urpose. Drugs are used; they have no other non-medical purpose. The execution chamber decorated like a surgical suite, and the killing team wears ospital associated clothing (scrub suits) except in Disneyland, the doctor wears a purple moon suit, and colored goggles The honorable judge is jumping into an area of which he has no knowledge, and he pretends to be able to dictate the ethics of my profession.
The North Carolina Medical Board—formally called the “Board of Medical Examiners”, was specifically set up by the legislature to regulate the practice of medicine in the 1830s. Those salons then realized that doctors should regulate medicine, and not people who did not go through a medical education, of which some traditions and ethical standards go back 2500 years or more. Stare decisis.
Judge Stephens, and the legislatures of today are laboring under the delusion that: (1) a machine, monitored by doctors, can determine if an execution causes “excessive pain”. Typically, the legislature and the Judge do not define “too much “
pain, nor can doctors—pain is too subjective– and no machine, watched by a physician or not, can make that medical distinction. The act of dying is frequently accompanied by erratic brain waves and a hypoxic and then anoxic pattern develops, overlapping any other patterns. So much the monitor.
is a not a medical procedure, what is the doctor doing there? Can he intervene and stop the killing if things go awry, can he do an impromptu cutdown if needed, or otherwise modify the procedure in midstream. He is present to give the killing a degree of respectability to an inherently evil and ugly procedure. That is the only reason.
The physicians who did turn killer in the Nazi T-34 program started out merely getting rid of “ballastexistenz” and this eventually led to mass murder. Let the image of Karl Brandt, a gifted neurosurgeon, and one of the designers of T-34, dangling from a gallows be a reminder of what can happen to a good physician gone bad.
There are better combinations of poison that can be used, better gas than cyanide, but those developing them are prevented from divulging these poisons. It pure stubbornness to keep the three drug cocktail today, considered too cruel to kill Fido and Tabby.
The analogy by Hood is equally specious. A doctor’s mission on the battlefield is not to better kill, but to preserve life and to alleviate suffering as much as possible. It is the intent that distinguishes the physician from the medical monster. Doctors have evolved a body of ethics that, at least in a civilized world, prevent the use of medical knowledge to kill. There is no comparison between the battlefield and he death chamber. It is so easy to use the word “war” in a sense not intended.
I would not tell a lawyer
, or an accountant what is ethical in his profession, and it is presumptuous of a lawyer to dictate to doctors. Ethics is too serious a matter to leave to the lawyers. The legislature’s intent might sound noble, but its effect is just the opposite—it perverts medicine’s most cherished —PRIMAM NON NOCERE — first do no harm
G M Larkin MD/Charlotte NC
a North Carolina physician for 40 years
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