Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2286788
 


 



Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship


Paul Litton


University of Missouri School of Law

June 28, 2013

41 Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics 333 (2013)
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-13

Abstract:     
Evidence that some executed prisoners suffered excruciating pain has reinvigorated the ethical debate about physician participation in lethal injections. In widely publicized litigation, death row inmates argue that the participation of anesthesiologists in their execution is constitutionally required to minimize the risk of unnecessary suffering. For many years, commentators supported the ethical ban on physician participation reflected in codes of professional medical organizations. However, a recent wave of scholarship concurs with inmate advocates, urging the law to require or at least permit physician participation.

Both the anti- and pro-physician-participation literature share a common premise: the ethics of physician participation should be analyzed independently from the moral status of capital punishment. This considerable literature implausibly divorces the ethics of physician participation from the moral status of the death penalty. Any ethical position on physician involvement requires some judgment about the moral status of the death penalty and the importance of physician involvement. The article examines anti- and pro-participation arguments to show that each one either is unpersuasive without discussion of the death penalty’s moral status or implicitly assumes a view on the social worth of the death penalty.

The article then articulates the practical implications of its arguments for both lawmakers and professional medical organizations.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

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Date posted: June 29, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Litton, Paul, Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship (June 28, 2013). 41 Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics 333 (2013); University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-13. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2286788

Contact Information

Paul Litton (Contact Author)
University of Missouri School of Law ( email )
Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO 65211
United States
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