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Substitute Lethal Injection Drug

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There is nothing magic about the choice of sodium thiopental as the drug to be used in lethal injections.  That was a choice made when the method was introduced, and the other states have just gone along.  So if there is a shortage, why not just use another anesthetic?

Oklahoma wants to do exactly that, reports Nathan Koppel in the WSJ Blog.  They want to use pentobarbital, the drug veterinarians use to euthanize animals.  The argument against it is predictable. "It 'is untested, potentially dangerous, and could well result in a torturous execution,' the attorneys [for murderer John David Duty] stated in a court filing."  Except it is not untested. Chris McGreal reports in the Guardian, "However, pentobarbital has been used for doctor-assisted suicides in Oregon and by the Swiss euthanasia group, Dignitas."

Opponents try to bog down the process by making changes expensive and difficult.  In some states, they have gotten courts to rule that changes in execution protocol have to go through the administrative procedures act process for regulations.

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Baze should bar a stay. The murderer has to show more than conclusory allegations.

If hypocrisy was gold, the abolitionist crowd would be well funded. One of their primary arguments against the three drug protocol, which was designed to provide snappy quotations for news stories, was that the condemned were executed by means not fit for a dog. Because the government, the argument went, refused to adopt tried and true euthanasia protocols used by the American Veterinary Association, there was deliberate indifference to the risk supposedly arising from maladministration of the anesthetic, but perfect administration of the paralytic. Now that Oklahoma presumably is suggesting the adoption of a component of the tried and true protocols, that is being branded by the convicted murderer as reckless. Perhaps the abolitionist crowd will one day decide to seek their goal with integrity, through legislative initiative and debate, instead of by duplicitous argument in the courts.

"Perhaps the abolitionist crowd will one day decide to seek their goal with integrity, through legislative initiative and debate, instead of by duplicitous argument in the courts."

Don't hold your breath.

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