Simple, really

May 6, 2009 

The N.C. Supreme Court's decision that prohibits the State Medical Board from disciplining physicians who participate in executions, though unfortunate, is hardly earth-shaking or even relevant. The issue is very simple: Doctors are forbidden by the Hippocratic Oath to help the state kill anyone.

Now what? State law says a physician must be present at executions, and moral law says that a physician may not be present (being present at an execution is a euphemism for taking part in an execution, which is frequently necessary). Since no one can force a physician to do this (this was not the meaning of the court's decision), either the law must change or executions must end.

Arthur L. Finn, M.D., Professor of Medicine, emeritus, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine,

Chapel Hill

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