Will doctors now do the State's dirty work?

Last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina Medical Board can't punish physicians who violate their sacred oaths by helping the state execute death row inmates. Today, Dr. Charles van der Horst, pushed back by drawing a bright line in the bloody sand. Please read his column in the News and Observer.

Attention legislators, justices and assorted members of the executive branch: We do not kill to fulfill the state's business. The Constitution says that you must not let prisoners suffer "cruel and unusual" punishment and so you decide physicians would help you kill in a constitutional manner. That morally dubious thinking may be popular within your circles, but legal decisions aside, the white-coated set is simply not going to comply.

I doubt that Dr. van der Horst speaks for the entire white-coated set. Plenty of doctors support capital punishment, and some will likely volunteer to help. When that happens, I hope the State and the doctors themselves will take their dirty work out into the public square so everyone one can see who is killing whom and how. There should be no anonymity for anyone who chooses to be part of state-sponsored executions.

Comments

Oh, Dr VdH

He's ... well-known among people who've spent any time at UNC Hospital as being, how to put it, direct.

For context, he's very widely-published in HIV research, and a fairly Big Name in AIDS.

re: anonymity

We know the name of the doctor who has performed at least 18 of the last 20 executions: Obi Umesi. It's unknown if Dr. Umesi will continue providing this "service."

Doctors just observe in NC's scenario

Someone has to physically do the work (stick the needle in).

You've got to cover nurses, lab techs, paramedics, etc. if you're going to try to restart the fight to stop capital punishment in this manner.

 

Right, but a doctor's presence

is "needed" by the State to meet the legal requirements of execution. And it's not just so they can declare the fact of and time of death, it's also to maintain the facade of a "humane death". It's that second part that sticks in the craw.

NC Nurses

The NC Nurses board, while my mother was their president came out against nurses partcipating in executions.