Accountability | Complicity in State Executions

Using medicine to kill violates fundamental medical ethics.

PHR views execution by the state as cruel and inhuman punishment. We oppose the death penalty in all cases and countries. We also oppose the participation of physicians and other health professionals in executions – including contributing to the search for so-called “humane” methods, determining the competency of prisoners to be executed, prescribing lethal drugs, inserting intravenous lines, attending executions as physicians, and pronouncing death.

Starting more than two decades ago, PHR has investigated and spoken out about the continued involvement of U.S. physicians in executions, in clear violation of professional ethics, which include the principle of “Do No Harm.” Our 1994 report “Breach of Trust” found that even when state laws are vague about requiring physician participation, in practice, physicians are often directly involved in the execution process.

We continue to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, to ensure that laws do not require physicians to violate professional ethics, and to call on health professionals to refuse to participate in killings by the state.

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