Monday, July 17, 2006

AMA: Physician Participation in Lethal Injection Violates Medical Ethics

CHICAGO - July 17 - Following is a statement of William G. Plested, III, M.D., president, American Medical Association:

"The American Medical Association is troubled by continuous refusal of many state courts and legislatures to acknowledge the ethical obligations of physicians, which strictly prohibit physician involvement in a legally authorized execution. The AMA's policy is clear and unambiguous - requiring physicians to participate in executions violates their oath to protect lives and erodes public confidence in the medical profession.

"A physician is a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so. 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.

"The guidelines in the AMA Code of Medical Ethics address physician participation in executions involving lethal injection. The ethical opinion explicitly prohibits selecting injection sites for executions by lethal injection, starting intravenous lines, prescribing, administering, or supervising the use of lethal drugs, monitoring vital signs, on site or remotely, and declaring death.

"As the voice of American medicine, the AMA urges all physicians to remain dedicated to our ethical obligations that prohibit involvement in capital punishment."

Editor's Note: For a full text of the AMA ethical opinion, E- 2.06, Capital Punishment, please visit the AMA Web site at:


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