Friday, August 2, 2013

The medicine cabinet runneth bare

While public outcry (what little public outcry there is) against the death penalty has done little (more likely, nothing) to stem the tide of executions in the Lone Star State, a more mundane issue may throw a monkey wrench into the Texas killing machine.

According to this article in the Houston Chronicle, the state is on the verge of running out of pentobarbital. And, once they run out, there's nowhere to obtain any more as the manufacturers of the drug will not sell it ot states for the purpose of murdering inmates.

If you read to the end of the article you will find out that in May 2012, Texas had 46 vials of pentobarbital on hand. Each vial contains 2.5 grams of the sedative and the execution protocol calls for 5 grams - meaning that it takes two vials to murder an inmate. Since that time Rick Perry has presided over 20 executions. That leaves but six vials in the medicine cabinet.

Those states that still cling to the barbaric notion that is alright for the state to murder inmates have been scrambling for drugs to kill people. Missouri wants to use propofol (the anesthetic that caused Michael Jackson's death) but the state's Supreme Court nixed that idea since the drug has never been tested for its efficacy in ending human life.

Georgia has gotten around the lack of pentobarbital by contracting with a compounding pharmacy to make their own. The state also enacted a law that makes the source of the drugs a state secret. The compounded drugs are not subject to FDA approval and have never been subjected to rigorous testing to ensure they don't cause unnecessary suffering to the inmate strapped down to the gurney.

Now that the drug manufacturers have begun to consider the consequences of providing states with drugs to kill, I wonder how long it will be until doctors and nurses who willingly violate the Hippocratic Oath by participating in the state-sponsored killing of inmates actually step back and think about the morality of what they're doing.

If the medical professionals who prostitute themselves to the state's killing machine for a few pieces of silver decide to stop administering the drugs, the death penalty will be effectively abolished.

Jeff Gamso has said and I have said it, too - the day is coming when we will no longer stand for state-sponsored murder. I don't know how long it will take to reach that day, but the nearly empty medicine cabinet in the death chamber in Huntsville is a hopeful sign that it will come sooner, rather than later.

No comments: