Morbid alert! okay, got that over with. A segment tonight on the Kelly File raised questions in my mind about capital execution, animal euthanasia, and “Hemlock society” formulas. Apparently, death by lethal injection, widely used in capital punishment in the USA, has a pretty high rate of going awry. Many people would say they don’t care, but though I support capital punishment, I think it should be done as quickly and cleanly as possible, and I thought we had long had the science down pat to do that. After all, thousands of animals are euthanized every day, and their owners usually feel that it was painless or very nearly so. So, if we can do it with animals, why not with humans?
Several techniques are used with animals, but with small animals it’s usually intravenous injection of very high doses of pentobarbitol or sodium thiopental. Why don’t they work for humans?
I’m not actually sure why, but the preferred method for human lethal injection is intravenous injection of three different drugs–the anesthetic sodium thiopental, the neuromuscular blocker pancuronium burrido, and the heart stopper potassium chloride.
the very distastefulness of the procedure , as well as its rarity, has dysfunctional results. The procedure is so rare that it does not have the regulation, review and re-evaluation that animal euthanasia has. Doctors won’t go near it. Often executioners even lack anesthesia training.
Moreover, manufacturers of drugs commonly used for execution, most of them European, deliberately strangle the USA of adequate supply of those drugs, which forces state officials to turn either to other, untried drugs, or to drugs made by smaller labs with lower standards.
So, in sum, a lethal execution too often uses inadequate doses of poorly regulated or even untested drugs, in the hands of poorly trained technicians.
One has to wonder; Are the cocktail formulas cooked up by the Dr. Kerkorians and Hemlock Societies of this world, any better than the lethal injection formulas?