Leading Physician Calls Florida’s New Lethal Injection Process “Appalling and Unethical”

by Save Robert Henry

From The Guardian:

A death row inmate who was executed by the state of Ohio on Thursday with an untried and untested combination of two medical drugs appeared to gasp and snort in a procedure that took an unusually long 25 minutes to kill him.

Dennis McGuire was pronounced dead at 10.53am at the Southern Ohio Correctional facility in Lucasville. His lawyers had warned ahead of the proceeding that the experimental combination of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone might subject him to “air hunger”, an insufficient flow of air into the lungs causing the sensation of suffocation. […]

A reporter for the Associated Press, which sends a journalist to every execution in the US, wrote that McGuire “appeared to gasp several times during his prolonged execution … McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during the more than 15 minutes it appeared to take him to die. It was one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. McGuire’s stomach rose and fell several times as he repeatedly opened and shut his mouth.” […]

The adoption of midazolam as an alternative drug – not only in Ohio, but also in Florida, one of the most active death penalty states – has led to expressions of anger and disgust by leading physicians in the US. Joel Zivot, the medical director of the cardio-thoracic and vascular intensive care unit at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and an opponent of the use of anesthetics in lethal injections, called the use of midazolam in executions “appalling and unethical”, and said, “The public should be concerned that [the] medicines that are used to help them are being diverted instead to kill people.”

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