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June 18, 2014

Physicians, Medical Ethics, and Execution by Lethal Injection

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Departments of Global Health and Social Medicine and Medical Ethics, Anaesthesia, and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 5Department of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2014;311(23):2375-2376. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6425

In an opinion dissenting from a Supreme Court decision to deny review in a death penalty case, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote, “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.”1 In the wake of the recent botched execution by lethal injection in Oklahoma, however, a group of eminent legal professionals known as the Death Penalty Committee of The Constitution Project has published a sweeping set of 39 recommendations that not only tinker with, but hope to fix, the multitude of problems that affect this method of capital punishment.2

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