California has postponed the immediate execution of an inmate because two anesthesiologists recruited to help inforce a judge’s ruling about how the execution had to take place to avoid cruel and unusual punishment have backed out.
The unnamed anesthesiologists have said that if Michael Morales, the inmate, were to wake up or appeared to suffer pain, they would have to intervene, and that intervention would be medically unethical. This might leave you scratching your head, but the thing is, if the anesthesiologists were to adjust Morales’s medication levels, they would then be participating in his execution, which would be against their oathes as doctors.
Confused yet? After all, doctors are required to attend executions and monitor the patient/inmate, by law. Well, those doctors neatly step around a lot of the ethical “participation” issues by monitoring the patient/inmate remotely, via computers and monitors in another room. They only enter the execution chamber once the patient/inmate is officially dead (as recorded on the monitors) to call it.
In the ruling passed down by Judge Jeremy Fogel, the prison officials could either bring in doctors to insure that Morales was properly anesthetized, or execute him by a lethal overdose of barbituites. Of course, that injection must be provided by someone licensed to inject medications intravenously…