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More from Mayo


Mayo Clinic Proceedings has published some reaction to the articles previously noted here. Not content with having contemporaneously published two editorials critical of David Waisel's article on physician participation in executions, they now publish a third, plus a commentary by the anti side's favorite lethal injection expert, Mark Heath.

They also publish six letters, four of which are on the opposition side. Despite having called only for responses that address the ethics of physician participation and not capital punishment generally, they go ahead and violate their own limit by publishing two letters attacking capital punishment generally. One of them is from Margaret R. Wentz, BA, of the Mayo Clinic. (You have to wonder about a person who uses a bachelor's degree as a title.) Ms. Wentz demonstrates her lack of sophistication on the subject with this obvious non sequitur: "Additionally, the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. National crime rates vary little between states that have the death penalty and those that do not." She cites the notorious Helen Prejean and the Death Penalty Information Center for this nugget, making no mention of the large body of peer-reviewed literature finding a deterrent effect. The editors claim "the various letters and commentaries were subjected to the journal’s typical rigorous peer-review process." Excuse me if I am unimpressed with your rigor.

One item that is worthwhile is the letter from C&C blogger Steven Erickson. He calls Arthur Caplan on the carpet for making the ridiculous statement that the United States executes "children" in an article published two years after Roper v. Simmons banned execution of anyone under 18. This is on top of the fact that 16- and 17-year-olds are not "children" in the first place.


The statement about the relative crime rates between non-death and death jurisdictions is colossally silly. The issue, obviously, is not whether Texas has a higher murder rate than say, Vermont, but whether Texas' murder rate is influenced by capital punishment in that state.

My favorite was Caplan's reply:

"Erickson notes that the killing of children stopped in the United States in 2005. He then goes on to maintain that participation in the killing of persons between 14 and 18 years by physicians in the United States or other nations could have been or still is morally justifiable."

Oh course, I said no such thing:

"there might be many good moral arguments against this practice"

And, of course, this has little to do with physician participation and much to do with the morality and legality of the death penalty itself. Funny to find that it a medical journal.

One also wonders how the opiate protocol being advocated for under Baze would change this fact.

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