American Medical Association Weighs In On Execution Practices

May 2, 2014

A botched lethal injection in Oklahoma has renewed debate on whether doctors should be banned from executions.

Credit American Medical Association

Some of the nation's 32 death penalty states, including Oklahoma, mandate doctor participation. Critics say what happened there proves a doctor's presence can't guarantee a smooth process.

In Oklahoma, inmate Clayton Lockett writhed before the execution was called off, and died later of an apparent heart attack. A physician checked the IV line delivering the lethal drugs and reported that not enough was given to kill him. Those actions violate the American Medical Association's ethics policy.

AMA President Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven said Friday the group is troubled by states' refusal to acknowledge those ethics. One doctor plans to ask the AMA to lobby for an execution ban at a meeting next month.


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