Lethal injection is now the standard method used to perform capital punishment in the United States and, unlike other methods of execution, doctors often have to be involved. Although medical organisations in the United States forbid participation in executions, most doctors are unaware of these guidelines and are willing to participate, writes the author.
Doctors' involvement in lethal injection (or any execution) creates a profound conflict of roles that is morally unacceptable, he says. When doctors enter the death chamber, they harm not only their relationship with their own patients, but the relationships with all doctors with their patients.
He believes that, even without doctors' participation, lethal injection simulates a medical procedure and thus has a deeply corrupting influence on medicine as a whole. The Nazis used the imagery of medicine to justify killing. Capital punishment in the United States now depends solely on the same medical charade, he writes.
Without the respectability that lethal injection provides, capital punishment in the United States would probably cease, he concludes.