The piece comes on the heels of a recent decision by the good ol' state of Arkansas to execute 8 men on death row over the next 11 days--- not because their crimes were particularly heinous or irrefutable, or just from sheer coincidence, or some other fluke of timing in the sentencing--- but rather because the state's supply of IV drugs used in executions is due to expire by the end of the month. There's enough in that last batch, apparently, to knock off 8 inmates. So...while the iron is hot....
Dr Jauhar makes the error of assuming that capital punishment will never go away, that all we can do as a society is to figure out ways of rendering it in a less mendacious, less barbaric, more telegenic fashion. And who better to assure that a lethal drug cocktail will be administered with elan and efficacy than a practicing physician? After all, medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in our great country! Allegedly.
I need to break Dr Jauhar's piece down paragraph by excruciating paragraph. It's the only way to do this with any justice. Here's one paragraph:
The three drugs in Arkansas’s execution protocol — midazolam; vecuronium bromide, a paralytic used during surgery that halts breathing; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart — are administered intravenously. The execution procedure therefore requires the insertion of catheters, controlled injection of lethal drugs and monitoring of a prisoner’s vital signs to confirm death. This makes it important that a doctor be present to assist in some capacity with the killing.What is it about "insertion of catheters, controlled injection of lethal drugs, and monitoring of a prisoner's vital signs" unequivocally necessitate the presence of a physician? The next time I witness an actual real live doctor place a peripheral IV in a patient, inject a medication all by himself, and then check a set of vital signs will be the first in at least a decade of practice. There is nothing about the act of lethal injection that is inseparable from physician presence. The idea that basic procedures performed every day by nurses and EMT personnel cannot be duly done without a physician watching over their shoulders is both condescending and ill-informed.
Here's another paragraph:
The American Medical Association, however, strongly opposes physician participation in executions on ethical grounds. Selecting injection sites, starting intravenous lines and supervising administration of lethal drugs, the association says, violate a doctor’s oath to heal or at least to do no harm. Doctors who defy the association’s guidelines face censure and the threat that a state medical board might revoke their license, though it is doubtful such punishment has ever been carried out. I disagree with this view. Though I oppose capital punishment as a matter of principle, as a doctor I believe physician presence at executions is consistent with our mandate to alleviate suffering.Who edited this piece? Here we have a physician outlining the American Medical Association's firm stance opposing any physician participation in lethal injection executions and then, blithely, distancing himself from that view while still claiming to hold a higher moral ground---- he only wants to alleviate suffering! That's obnoxious, man. You want to stick a doctor in a death chamber with vials full of instant death and call yourself a hero because you are allowing for the state to eradicate a human in a way that seems quiet and unobtrusive and clean. Even the kids can come out to watch. Watch the bad man go to sleep, Johnny. See? See how peaceful he looks? Is that a smile on his lips? He's happier now! His sin has been purified! Christ has smited him!. Satan has him now!
I have to go to another paragraph before I start writing 3000 words in the voice of a Evangelical Christian from Little Rock talking to his kid at a state sanctioned execution:
A lot can go wrong during lethal injections. In 2014 in Oklahoma, to cite just one gruesome example, a 38-year-old convicted murderer named Clayton Lockett writhed in pain at his execution, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow, according to witnesses, after a botched injection into a vein in his groin.A lot can go wrong? Even with lethal injection? State sanctioned murder for more civilized and sophisticated tastes? You don't say! You mean that when dangerous drugs are given off label for purposes they weren't meant for that sometimes things can "get a little hairy"? That's some wild and wacky shit. Short side tangent here: Do you know why vecuronium is always included in lethal injection cocktails? Because it is a strong paralyzing agent. My anesthesiologist colleagues often use it to render a patient completely still when I perform abdominal surgery. The purpose of the drug in a death chamber is pure optics. The third drug administered, the actual killer, is generally a lethal dose of potassium chloride. Once injected it causes a massive myocardial infarction--- which is excruciating. Even the injection of KCL into the veins itself will make it feel like your arm has been lit on fire. So to spare us the "theatrics" of a condemned man writhing and groaning in agony while strapped to a gurney, we give the paralyzing agent as cloak; to hide the unsavory awfulness of what an execution actually entails.
Here's 2 paragraphs in a row: