Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Science of Killing a Human Being.

In the documentary below, former Conservative MP, Michael Portillo pushes his body to the brink of death in an investigation into the science of execution. At the very beginning he states, "If the state's going to kill people, you want to do it as humanely as possible, I think most people agree on that." I'm not so sure. From my very limited perspective, I think the man who invented the lethal injection protocol, Dr. Jay Chapman's response,  "My basic attitude is so they suffer a little pain, who cares?" might just be the attitude shared by most.

Of course, as I've stated repeatedly, I do not believe in the death penalty under any circumstances, but if the state insists upon executing people, the least they could do is spare the doomed individual as much pain as possible. As I have also stated many times before, I think the lethal injection protocol is, as they say in the film "torture disguised as a medical procedure." And that's whether they carry it with two or three drugs. I mean, just imagine not getting enough of the drug that is supposed to cause unconsciousness, before getting the paralyzing drug (most likely used for aesthetic reasons) that renders you unable to signal your distress, followed by a heart-stopping drug, which "feels like a fire traveling through the vein to the heart.” The chance of this occurring is extremely high because it is administered by ill-trained staff.  After all, doctors and nurses are supposedly bound by the "Hippocratic Oath" or take a pledge to do no harm.

It's not just a lack of expertise that contribute to the controversy over lethal injection; it's the second drug in the cocktail: pancuronium bromide, the paralyzing agent  Carol Weihrer, who has testified in 15 court cases against lethal injection, knows all too well the pain this drug can cause. During a routine eye operation, in which she was given anesthesia and then pancuronium bromide, the anesthesia failed to work, leaving her fully aware of the excruciating pain as the pancuronium bromide coursed through her veins, but unable to tell anyone or move. She said if felt like "ignited jet fuel going through your body feeling like you're absolutely on fire." Carol believes that most executed inmates go through the same experience as she did.  She states that the anesthetic used in the lethal injection protocol is  "short-acting, five minute version" and that that lethal injection "takes between 10-12 minutes on a good day."  In other words, the inmate is put out for a couple of minutes, and then conscious, thus feels the pancuronium bromide painfully charge through their veins without being able to alert anyone and dies from suffocation before their heart is stopped.

One example:

Angel Diaz
On December 13, 2006,  Angel Diaz took more than a half-hour to die and required a second dose of the chemicals. After the first injection, he continued to move and was squinting and grimacing as he tried to mouth words.  The medical examiner stated that the needle had gone through Mr. Diaz's vein and out the other side, so the deadly chemicals were injected into soft tissue rather than the vein.


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