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The Ohio execution was cruel and unusual punishment

The recent prolonged and painful execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio with medical drugs was a national disgrace. A viewpoint on this execution as being cruel and unusual punishment was shared by MedPage Today on Jan. 19, 2014. Some physicians who do not support capital punishment have joined other citizens in being harshly critical of states' actions since McGuire was executed by an untested combination of drugs.

Death penalty opponent Seana Kelly prays outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Mike Simons/Getty Images

Reports said McGuire's death was very slow, taking about 25 minutes, and that while he was fighting for his life he appeared to gasp several times and made several loud snorting or snoring noises. McGuire was given a cocktail of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a powerful opioid. His lawyers had argued these drugs would cause more agony and terror than standard drugs which are used in executions. Pentobarbital or sodium thiopental, which are other drugs which have been used, have been in short supply largely because European manufacturers have been blocking their exportation as a protest against capital punishment.

Joel Zivot, MD, an anesthesiologist at Emory University, has said that there's no science behind using these drugs to kill inmates. Zivot has also said the state is "impersonating a physician" when it experiments with compounds which are used to treat patients. He has commented, "There is no such thing as a drug for capital punishment. We struggle with trying to satisfy our ethical directive to not speak out about this and yet standing idly by feels wrong too."

The prolonged execution in Ohio has renewed the debate over death by lethal injection, reports the Los Angeles Times. McGuire, who was 53 years old , was sentenced to death for the 1989 rape and stabbing death of 22 year old Joy Stewart, who was seven months pregnant. Clearly this was a brutal crime and there are no excuses for it. However, watching Ohio come down to the same level of brutality as the killer has been shocking. McGuire's two children, who witnessed his execution, have announced plans to file a federal lawsuit against the state alleging that the execution violated McGuire's constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

There have always been reactionary elements among us in the United States who label critics of the country as traitors, misfits and mentally ill. Particularly in the new Internet when online criticisms can be picked up worldwide in a flash the reactionary elements often go into adolescent styled rages when their own countrymen strike out at the country as being uncivilized. However, if the country wishes to be justifiably seen as civilized it should behave that way.

In Ohio this past week seeing an American execution take place which was as gruesome as a school shooting or gang attack in the nation's ghettos has left the civilized among us sharing their disgust about this matter. It's unusual to see states use medicinal procedures and drugs to help torture and execute people just like Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did and than go into tirades when citizens hit back with sharp criticisms. The U.S. federal government and states across the country have also been working with psychiatrists, who are physicians, to enslave, torture and slowly murder people with toxic poisonous drugs for no more than being poor, or their sins, for a long time.

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