Delay of execution for Morales

  • #1
Math Is Hard
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Has anyone else been following this story?

FEBRUARY 21, 2006 - Michael Morales was not executed last night because the anesthesiologists that had agreed to participate in the execution walked out after determining that what was being asked of them was "unethical". The state has rescheduled the execution for TODAY, FEBRUARY 21ST AT 7:30PM. The state now plans to proceed with the execution using only sodium thiopental or some combination of barbiturates. This is the first time ever that a state plans to carry out an execution using only barbiturates.
http://www.indybay.org/news/2006/02/1803833.php

More about it here:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20060221-9999-7n21morales.html [Broken]
Under a new procedure ordered by a federal judge last week, prison officials retained an anesthesiologist to be in the death chamber to certify that Morales would be unconscious from a sedative before another doctor administered a paralyzing agent and the drug designed to stop Morales' heart.

The change was made after Morales and his attorneys argued that the three-part lethal injection cocktail used in California and 35 other states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. They said a prisoner would feel excruciating pain from the last two chemicals if he were not fully sedated.

The execution, which had been planned for just after midnight, was delayed for at least an hour to give the anesthesiologists additional training, Crittendon said.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
The Anesthesiologists walked? I wonder if there have ever been any other walk outs like that before.
 
  • #3
Math Is Hard
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Fron what I understand, there has never been a request for the presence of anesthesiologists before. I heard just a snippet on the news on the radio while I was coming home and it seems that the execution has been delayed again... and I thought they said "indefinitely". Has anyone else heard about this?
 
  • #4
Pengwuino
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You would think that they would have screened the doctors as to who actually would go through with this before actually having the execution.
 
  • #5
Math Is Hard
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From what I understand there is a problem with the Hippocratic oath that ultimately caused the bail out. Since I am not familiar with it, I went Googling.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
 
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  • #7
Moonbear
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They're considering trying thiopental alone? I've never even considered that as a euthanasia drug, and it sounds way less than ideal. (I have some limited experience using it as an anesthetic agent, and the variability in responses to it really make it low on my list of anesthetics, unless I'm looking for something that just knocks an animal out for less than 5 minutes).

I hope they opt for the barbiturates. That's what's used to euthanize animals - it's very quick and induces nearly instantaneous unconsciousness leading rapidly to anesthesia, then respiration and heart function cease.

Okay, yeesh, I'm looking up the components of the 3-part cocktail...it's pentothal (anesthetic), potassium chloride (stops the heart), and pancuronium bromide (a neuromuscular blocking agent - induces paralysis). :bugeye: I would have to agree with the arguments by the defendent about that cocktail. I'd be really reluctant to use something that induces paralysis so that you can't observe if the anesthesia is taking effect if you didn't have a trained anesthesiologist present to ensure everything was properly administered. The AVMA lists it as an unallowable form of euthanasia for animals for this very reason, respiratory arrest can occur before anethesia, leading to pain and distress.
 
  • #8
Moonbear
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TheStatutoryApe said:
From that article:
The state then proposed to execute Morales with a massive dose of the barbiturate sodium pentothal, which it said would render him unconscious quickly and cause death within 30 to 45 minutes.

Huh?! What?! 30 to 45 minutes?! Are they nuts? A massive dose of sodium pentobarbital (the pentothal mentioned above is the same as thiopental...different from pentobarbital, despite sounding very similar; both are barbiturates though) should induce death in less than a minute! I'd hand myself over to PETA if I was using dosages of drugs for euthanasia that took 30 to 45 minutes to work! That's just entirely inhumane. Geez, isn't death by hanging faster than that? I've always teetered back and forth on the issue of the death penalty, but that's when I thought they just gave a quick injection and anesthesia and death were rapidly induced. To hear these sort of details of it, that's absolutely unacceptable to me. No matter what he's done wrong in his life, he's still human; don't treat him worse than you'd treat an animal!
 
  • #9
SOS2008
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I haven't been following the story, but it sounds like Morales has good legal counsel by presenting the argument of cruelty. So the state revised the process to include an anesthesiologist--new to California at least. Then the irony is the anesthesiologist walked on the basis that the process was...still cruel. But I'm not sure how that would result in a permanent stay of execution.
 

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