|Sister Helen Prejean|
ATHENS—The country’s preferred method of executing prisoners relies on increasingly hard-to-find key drugs. To make up the shortfall, state executioners turn to compounding pharmacies to acquire new combinations of the lethal drugs.
In a talk at the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia, Congregation of St. Joseph Sister Helen Prejean called these drug cocktails for death row inmates “medical experimentation.”
“Now we are in a situation where states have to go try and find drugs and put them together,” she said. “It is medical experimentation.”
States are forced to come up with new drugs after the executive body of the European Union banned the sale of these drugs to the United States if they are used to execute prisoners, and some U.S. pharmacies stopped producing them.
“Now there’s national attention on this. How can you be letting these states experiment on killing people like this?” she asked.
States have had to go to compounding pharmaceutical companies to try and put together a lethal injection from one or more drugs. At the same time, information about the drugs being used, their expiration dates, or their sources is kept secret.
There is more transparency by veterinarian associations about euthanizing animals than “for the killing of human beings,” Sister Helen asserted.
States use a variety of protocols utilizing one, two or three drugs, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
In 2013, the Georgia Legislature passed a law making the source of drugs used for lethal injections a state secret. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Georgia uses a one-drug system, a lethal dose of pentobarbital, to execute inmates.
Georgia has stopped executions twice in four years over questions about the quality of the drugs, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. It most recently happened in March when the state was prepared to execute Kelly Gissendaner. The drug to be used appeared cloudy, according to reports.
Sister Helen said there is a “moral crunch” for many Catholics to believe that a pro-life position calls them to be advocates both for the innocent unborn and the guilty inmate.
Source: The Georgia Bulletin, April 2, 2015
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