Doctors ill-served by "high-and-mighty posturing" over aid in executions

LETTER — Posted April 10, 2006

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Regarding "Controversial California ruling focuses on physician role in execution" (Article, March 13): Your article cited several groups, including the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, that were opposed to doctors' involvement with state-ordered executions. All the cited authorities implied that such activity would be unethical, because doctors are about treating patients -- easing pain and suffering -- not killing people.

Spare me. Doctors are not served by such high-and-mighty posturing. There are plenty of times when, even if not directly killing those under their care, doctors do speed their demise and take credit for it because it lessens suffering.

I would not like to see anyone forced to assist with executions, but I see no reason why doctors as a class should be prohibited from voluntary participation in the legal activities of their government. If organized medicine wants to mount its high horse, it should oppose the death penalty itself, not try to shame doctors into refusing to help with the lawful functions of government.

Francis A Neelon, MD, Durham, N.C.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/04/10/edlt0410.htm.

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