University of Minnesota

World Medical Association, Resolution on Physician Participation in Capital Punishment (1981).


Adopted by the 34th World Medical Assembly
Lisbon, Portugal, September 28 - October 2, 1981


RESOLVED, that the Assembly of the World Medical Association endorses the action of the Secretary General in issuing the attached press release on behalf of the World Medical Association condemning physician participation in capital punishment.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that it is unethical for physicians to participate in capital punishment, although this does not preclude physicians certifying death.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Medical Ethics Committee keep this matter under active consideration.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Ferney-Voltaire, France
September 11, 1981

The first capital punishment by intravenous injection of lethal dose of drugs was decided to be carried out next week by the Court of the State of Oklahoma, USA.

Regardless of the method of capital punishment as State imposes, no physician should be required to be an active participant. Physicians are dedicated to preserving life.

Acting as an executioner is not the practice of medicine and physician services are not required to carry out capital punishment even it the methodology utilized pharmacologic agents or equipment that might otherwise be used in the practice of medicine.

A physician's only role would be to certify death once the State had carried out the capital punishment.

Dr André Wynen
Secretary General

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