Eleven of 38 death penalty states have suspended executions as the role of doctors in administering lethal injections is surfacing as the latest ethical issue to force a re-examination of capital punishment in the United States; the sharpest debate is shaping up in North Carolina, where the state corrections department and the state medical board are headed for a showdown over the board’s declaration that it will punish any doctor who participates in executions. The fight in North Carolina is the first time a state medical board, a state agency that licenses and disciplines physicians, has willingly pushed itself into the debate. Months after a judge said a doctor must monitor a death-row inmate’s vital signs to ensure there is no pain, the state’s medical board in January said it would punish any doctor who did anything more than observe executions. As a result, a judge has stayed five executions. Lethal injection is now the primary method of execution; only one state, Nebraska, uses the electric chair. Read More
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