Thursday, August 21, 2008

Execution Stay, Doctors and Hippocrates

Shortly after making this post on the upcoming execution of Dennis Skillicorn, I received word from the Missouri Catholic Conference that his execution has been stayed by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an excellent rundown and commentary on the situation today. Please know that this is only a stay and that vigils mentioned in the previous post to be held at the Sisters of St. Francis chapel in Independence and the St. Francis Chapel in Savannah will go on as scheduled. The vigil at the Plaza in KC is postponed.

Among the interesting items in the St. Louis Review article is information that executions will now be assisted by a Board-Certified Anethesiologist, a licensed practical nurse and a pharmacist. Given that this is a provision to ensure that the executed are dispatched with the least amount of discomfort, it is still rotten.

The name of the Anesthesiologist will be kept confidential because according to The Review, "The ethical guidelines of the American Medical Association and the American Society of Anesthesiologists forbid physicians from participating directly or indirectly in executions."

Well so does the Hippocratic Oath and without the oath, the physician is not due the respect or trust of the community. How many of you would be comfortable going into surgery putting your life in the hands of an executioner? Would you trust the life and death advice of practitioners who violate their oath to do no harm, their professional rules of conduct, and do so in shrouded secrecy?

Here's what the oath reads in part:

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

We dropped the second bolded item a while back and I'm sure that's why we feel free now to drop the first. Watch out women (and uh men), be you free or slave, next might be the love doctor.