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November 5, 1960

Medical Research and the Death Penalty: A Dialogue

JAMA. 1960;174(10):1351. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030100119039

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The author argues that a condemned prisoner should be able to choose anesthesia from which he would never awaken (for the purpose of medical experimentation to be subsequently performed) as a method of execution. Whereas he does not discuss the merits of capital punishment, he asserts that, since it is used, the use of anesthesia would result in a more pleasant death for the condemned. This would also be of great benefit in medical research and, in turn, of great benefit to society. The material is presented in the form of a debate. The author assumes the role of the protagonist, while the antagonist is representative of newspaper articles, personal letters, and private communications.

The author believes that some of the merits of using anesthesia as a form of execution are as follows: It is a relatively more pleasant way to die than by the electric chair, gas chamber, or

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