Kentucky Governor Could Lose Medical License over Executions

Governor’s execution role risks MD license (Chicago Tribune)

When Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a death warrant for a convicted killer this month, he may have done more than start the clock ticking on an execution. Some say Fletcher, a doctor, may have put his medical license at risk.

American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part, directly or indirectly, in executions, and Kentucky requires doctors to follow AMA ethical guidelines. “I think it’s a clear violation,” said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, a retired psychiatrist in New York and a death penalty opponent. Zitrin also is challenging the license of a Georgia doctor accused of helping nurses find a vein in a condemned man for a lethal injection.

I can’t imagine the state would actually pull Fletcher’s license, what with him being governor and all, but this is an interesting issue. Of course, as Jim Pfaff points out, there doesn’t seem to be any rush to pull the licenses of doctors who perform abortions.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark says:

    You could go farther and say they could suspend Senator Frist’s medical license if he votes in favor of some death penalty bill. That is “indirect” too I would imagine…

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The government should take the lead and revoke the charter of the AMA for tortous interference with the laws of the state.

  3. Teri says:

    Anyone who pays taxes in a state with executions indirectly takes part in executions. So, gonna pull the licenses of all the doctors in Kentucky?