About me
Archive
About me

Drug shortages hamper lethal injections in the USA

I am implacably opposed to capital punishment. There are few issues on which I'm so certain. The state should not kill people. As I've said before, humanity is better than that.

It was only a few weeks ago that I learned that the European Union forbids the export of drugs used for killing prisoners in the USA through lethal injection. For perhaps the first time, I felt a real swell of pride at what seemed a surprisingly strong and principled stand. It is rare to see ethics translated to action on this scale.

But today, Owen Dyer's article in the BMJ (paywalled) has given me pause for thought. This excellently-written article discusses, in some detail, the difficulties drug shortages have caused for the lethal injection programme in several states.

Dyer's article talks through a number of horrendous botched executions, as well as the methods (some illegal) by which states have attempted to procure drugs for lethal injections. I found it a deeply thought-provoking piece. Towards the end, Dyer comes to this point:

Arkansas’ attorney general last year called the state’s capital punishment system “completely broken … it’s either abolish the death penalty or change the method of execution.”

Initiatives are now cropping up in state houses to return to more violent methods. These methods are not so far behind us as some imagine. The last execution by firing squad was in 2010, the last by gas chamber was in 1999, and the last hanging occurred in 1996. The last use of the electric chair was in 2013 in Virginia.

Is it better to bend our principles to supply drugs and assure a more humane death, or to withhold them and ensure a violent death?

The dilemma is complicated by the knowledge that violent methods have less public support, so may – or may not – bring about the end of capital punishment in the USA sooner than non-violent methods.

I tentatively lean in the direction of the greater good, and suggest that drugs are withheld. But it is certainly a complicated issue.

The quotes in this piece have been edited for length.

This 2,224th post was filed under: Headliner, Health, News and Comment, , , .

Some recently published posts

My favourite books of 2016 / December 2019, 26 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / December 2019, 12 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / November 2019, 5 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / October 2019, 3 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / September 2019, 6 minutes long

Some random old posts

Because we can’t get enough of “Come Hither Bill” / January 2005, Less than a minute long

Swing Update / May 2005, 1 minute long

Dixons: At it again / January 2008, Less than a minute long

I was swallowed by a hippo / June 2014, Less than a minute long

‘We doctors work in a climate of fear’ / December 2004, 2 minutes long

Why is this container so radioactive? / August 2012, Less than a minute long


Comments and responses

No comments or responses to this post have been published yet.

Compose a new comment



Comment

You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.



The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.