Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Execution of Killer-Rapist Is Postponed After Doctors Walk Out - Los Angeles Times

Execution of Killer-Rapist Is Postponed After Doctors Walk Out - Los Angeles Times:
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Court-ordered anesthesiologists refuse to participate in the process, citing ethical concerns.

By Louis Sahagun and Tim Reiterman, Times Staff Writers

"SAN QUENTIN -- The scheduled execution of convicted murderer-rapist Michael Morales was postponed this morning after court-ordered anesthesiologists refused to participate in the process. The prison warden abruptly changed plans and announced that the inmate would be executed with a lethal dose of barbiturates.

At 2:55 a.m., Warden Steven Ornoski announced that the prison indends to carry out the execution at 7:30 p.m. today with an unprecedented single dose of sodium pentothal, a lethal barbiturate, rather than the standard three-chemical potion.

Injecting Morales with five grams of barbiturates was expected to lengthen the execution from the usual 11 minutes to as long as 45 minutes...."
This article was a little unclear as to what, specifically, the physician's ethical issues were, but they felt that they could not participate in the lethal injection to as great an extent as they were being asked to.

The American Medical Association had aleady spoken out against the new protocol, since it required active participation in the execution of the the death sentence against Michael Morales.

My personal views on the death penalty have evolved from support in the early 1970s to questioning in the 1980s to opposition from the early 1990s on. These views are influenced most heavily by my faith, but there is plenty of evidence that the death penalty is applied in an arbitrary manner throughout this nation, and has been disproportionately inflicted on the poor and minorities.

I commend the anaesthesiologists who refused to participate in this case, but I suspect it will only result in a short postponement of Morales' death.

UPDATE (February 21, 2006 21:25 CST)

California has postponed the Morales execution indefinitely, as the ethical issues of court-ordered physician participation were too thorny to resolve in the time remaining on the current death warrant.

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