Skip to comments.Kentucky Governor, a Doctor, Risks License (Death Penalty)
Posted on 11/19/2004 2:33:51 AM PST by andie74
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a death warrant for a convicted killer this month, he may have done more than start the clock ticking on an execution. Some say Fletcher, a doctor, may have put his medical license at risk.
American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part, directly or indirectly, in executions. And Kentucky requires doctors to follow AMA ethical guidelines.
"I think it's a clear violation," said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, an 86-year-old retired psychiatrist in New York and an outspoken death-penalty opponent. Zitrin is also challenging the license of a Georgia doctor accused of helping nurses find a vein in a condemned man for a lethal injection.
A group of doctors is seeking an opinion from the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure on whether Fletcher can sign death warrants without running the risk of having his medical license revoked. The board is not scheduled to take up the matter until at least January, and would not comment in the meantime.
On Nov. 8, Fletcher signed a death warrant for 51-year-old Thomas Clyde Bowling, convicted of shooting to death the husband-and-wife owners of a dry cleaning business outside their store in 1990. Bowling is set to die by lethal injection Nov. 30.
Fletcher's executive counsel, John Roach, said the Republican governor did not violate AMA guidelines or other ethical standards.
"By signing a death warrant, in no way is Gov. Ernie Fletcher participating in the conduct of an execution," Roach said. "Gov. Fletcher's role under the law is consistent with the roles of judges fulfilling their legal duty and jurors fulfilling their legal obligations regardless of their professions."
The AMA guidelines forbid doctors to actively take part in an execution or to take any "action which would directly cause the death of the condemned" or "which would assist, supervise or contribute" to the death of the inmate.
In a statement, Dr. Michael Goldrich, chairman of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, stopped short of saying whether the governor violated the guidelines.
Goldrich said the code prohibits any role by a doctor, passive or active, in an execution. But he also said the code "does not speak to individuals with a medical degree who no longer maintain any involvement with medicine and are engaged in activities that are outside the sphere of the medical profession."
Fletcher, 52, earned his medical degree at the University of Kentucky and was a family practitioner until he was elected to Congress in 1998. He was elected governor last year and is still licensed as a physician in Kentucky.
The Federation of State Medical Boards said it has no information on any doctors who may have been disciplined for taking part in an execution. Not all states incorporate AMA guidelines into state law. For example, it would not be illegal in California for a physician to participate in an execution, according to Candis Cohen, spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California.
According to the National Governors Association, there have been three other doctors who have been U.S. governors since the AMA guidelines took effect in 1980. But none was in the position of having to decide whether to sign a death warrant.
Dr. Otis Ray Bowen of Indiana left office in 1981 without signing a death warrant. Vermont, where Dr. Howard Dean (news - web sites) spent 12 years as governor, has no death penalty. Dr. John Kitzhaber was governor during two executions in Oregon before leaving office in 2003. But the Oregon governor does not sign an execution warrant a judge does. Kitzhaber could have granted clemency to the condemned but chose not to.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., worked as a heart surgeon before being elected to the Senate. Frist, who supports the death penalty, had no comment on Fletcher's decision.
State Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat, said of the governor: "It's curious he will keep his no-new-taxes pledge but will violate his Hippocratic oath. I'm not sure how he sleeps at night with this kind of decision."
Yet the SAME "ethics" allow for abortions to be performed as if it is nothing more than a tonsillectomy!
Don't doctors participate in executions all the time? Who pronounces the executee dead? Who starts the poison drip for lethal injections?
These "doctors" are liberal activists opposed to executing murderers. Ernie Fletcher signed the warrants, not in his capacity as a physician but as Governor Of Kentucky sworn to uphold the laws of his state. Fletcher broke no laws nor did he violate the Hippocratic Oath - which in any case says nothing about executing those duly convicted of murder.
That was kind of my thinking...
And it isn't unlawful if the state issues the death penalty.
Notice that it is the New York psychiatrist with his boxers in a wad.
"Yet the SAME "ethics" allow for abortions to be performed as if it is nothing more than a tonsillectomy!
The original Hippocratic oath makes no bones about the subject of abortion and euthanasia:
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."
It is sheer cheek of these characters to try and threated this governors medical license but you know libs, anything that might work, they will toss up.
Exactly. The Hippocratic Oath forbids a physician from HASTENING the death of an innocent person. It is silent about what physicians should do in a situation in which a condemned person is to be put to death. The AMA guidelines speak more to a politically correct liberal position on the death penalty than they do about the ethics of a physician's conduct in that situation.
Abortion doctors once again get a pass.
We don't see any fuss from the legacy media about it. Innocent babies are not as big an ethical dilemma as soulless murderers on Death Row are.
My son was taught in public school that the stages of pregnancy are proof of evolution. There is the tadpole stage, the monkey stage, etc. So it isn't really killing a baby, but an animal, you see.
Yet, somehow, I am sure that most women wouldn't choose to carry a death row inmate for nine months over a fetus at whatever stage in the game.
LOL, you know THAT! Wait'll his queen Hillary! lets him down by being pro-death penalty when she runs for pres.
Most of the key points have been made by other posts. The big problem is education and the willful intellectual dishonesty and moral obtuseness of the Left Wing. They cannot, and dare not, admit to themselves that an unborn "fetus" is a living child.
If they admit that then they have to admit they support elective homocide just for the convenience of a mother who thinks she made a mistake. It might not be a mistake in the eyes of God, maybe this new life has potential to benfit all of mankind and be part of His plan.
I was proud of Mel Gibson when he recently told Diane Sawyer that she once was a simple mass of cells and that it was no more ethical to harvest her embryonic stem cells that it would be to take the cells of any other living person.
No one can watch a film or video tape of a partial birth abortion and not fully understand they just watched the taking of a human life. Left Wing Liberals must close their eyes and pretend all they are seeing is a simple operation like the removal of tonsils. This is not a matter of religion so much as a matter of simple honesty which of course is a tenet of all religions. The AMA never seems to worry about how many lives their members take every year in abortions but they will make life hard for Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky because he is a doctor. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) is also a doctor and next the AMA could take away his license if he does not vote the way they demand.
With malpract. rates the way they are, he mite not be too concerned. And who pronounces the condemned dead? A doc.?
Either a doctor or a coroner.
What a freaking non-story! Notice it is all built around a statement by an activist retired shrink from New York.
Totally...but apparently the opinions of an 82-year old New York psychiatrist is enough to pass for serious news these days...enough to impeach someone and/or strip one's medical license.
A PSYCHIATRIST?!!!! PULLEASE!! Dr. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson can tell you all about the genesis of that profession..Read his book, "The Assault on Truth." Let me tell you..I know KY. I grew up there..You know the saying, "Don't mess with Texas." It is doubly true for KY. To the liberals who want to punish Govenor Fletcher by taking his medical license for not supporting their sick ideologies..You will NOT succeed. Kentucky has huge conservative support and it is rather intolerant of liberals who try to change things through the power of "elites." Sue Wiley..This would be a good topic for you to discuss on your program..
"State Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat, said of the governor: "It's curious he will keep his no-new-taxes pledge but will violate his Hippocratic oath. I'm not sure how he sleeps at night with this kind of decision."
Representative, I am not sure how you sleep at night with your oppressive political ideology.
Fletcher was not acting as a physician, but as a governor. Some liberal is stretching very hard to make this case.
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