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AMA opposes physician involvement in executions

Physician Practice Advisor, February 23, 2006

In a press release, the American Medical Association (AMA) criticized a ruling by Judge Jeremy Fogel that called for an anesthesiologist to be present in California's execution chambers to verify prisoners are unconscious before receiving a lethal injection.

The ruling pertained to the execution of Michael Angelo Morales, whose lethal injection was postponed after anesthesiologists scheduled to monitor the execution withdrew for ethical reasons, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

"The use of a physician's clinical skill and judgment for purposes other than promoting an individual's health and welfare undermines a basic ethical foundation of medicine-first, do no harm. Therefore, requiring physicians to be involved in executions violates their oath to protect lives and erodes public confidence in the medical profession," Priscilla Ray, chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, said in the press release.

Click here to read the Sacramento Bee article and here to read the AMA press release.