The State's Department of Correction has filed a lawsuit which asks the courts to strip the North Carolina Medical Board of its power to discipline physicians who participate in executions. The board adopted a new policy in January, which stated that taking part in an execution would violate a doctor's ethical code of conduct and could result in a suspension of his or her license. This new policy has, in essence, halted
On Tuesday, state officials argued that executions aren't medical procedures, and therefore don't fall under the medical board's jurisdiction so scheduled executions could resume. State law requires that a doctor be present at an execution to ensure that the condemned inmate doesn't suffer. But last year, a federal judge allowed an execution to go forward only after the state said a doctor would monitor the inmate to ensure he didn't feel pain as officials injected him with a combination of three deadly chemicals.
Challenges to lethal injection, namely, whether it violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, have effectively placed executions on hold in 11 states. The question of doctor participation has figured in some of those disputes. In order to resolve these issues in
Several additional measures recommended by the House Select Committee on Capital Punishment, intending to reform the administration of the death penalty, will be introduced next week.