Evidence that some executed prisoners suffered excruciating pain has reinvigorated the ethical debate about physician participation in lethal injections. In widely publicized litigation, death row inmates argue that the participation of anesthesiologists in their execution is constitutionally required to minimize the risk of unnecessary suffering. For many years, commentators supported the ethical ban on physician participation reflected in codes of professional medical organizations. However, a recent wave of scholarship concurs with inmate advocates, urging the law to require or at least permit physician participation.
Paul Litton, Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship, 41 J.L. Med. & Ethics 333 (2013).