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February 10, 1993

Health Professionals Oppose Rules Mandating Participation in Executions

JAMA. 1993;269(6):721-723. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060013003

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RECENTLY PROPOSED regulations that would mandate physician participation in federal executions is meeting strong opposition from many physicians and other health professionals.

The American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Physicians, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, and other health professionals were taken by surprise when outgoing US Attorney General William P. Barr announced—in the November 30,1992, Federal Register— proposed procedures for carrying out federal death sentences.

The proposed regulations would establish lethal injections as the means of death in federal executions and would require the presence of at least one physician. They would also require a "physician or other qualified person" to declare death.

The US Department of Justice allowed only a 30-day period for comments, which ended December 30. Final regulations are expected soon.

Response from the medical community to the attorney general's announcement was loud and clear. To publicize their opposition to the proposed regulations,