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Doctors and the death penalty

The botched attempt to execute Romell Broom in Ohio, Texas, is appalling in itself, but doubly so because it apparently involved a medical team. I'm against the use of the death penalty in any case, but whatever doctors' views on its legitimacy may be, to offer to use their skills in this way is totally unacceptable. Doctors don't normally take the Hippocratic oath these days, but they do swear an oath with many similar provisions, one of which is to refuse to take life. This is being eroded in various ways today, notably in connection with voluntary euthanasia, which it is at least arguably legitimate for doctors to perform as an act of mercy. But there can be no case at all for doctors' assisting the state in killing people as a punishment, whether it is or is not judged to be 'cruel and unusual'. Cruel it certainly is; unusual, unfortunately, not.


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