People We Love: Dr Orin Guidry

Medical ethics and lethal injection
Dr. Orin Guidry

Lethal injection and the death penalty are in the news again, as California and Missouri courts have ruled that administering lethal injection drugs without proper anesthesia is cruel and unusual punishment.

Dr. Orin Guidry, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, has emerged as a clear voice in the debate. Anticipating that anesthesiologists may be asked to participate in executions, Guidry sent an eloquent letter to fellow anesthesiologists, emphasizing the ethical implications of participation.

While some speculate that lethal injection will be banned if anesthesiologists refuse to participate, Dr. Guidry stressed that doctors must be true to their ethical principles regardless of political implications.

"Lethal injection was not anesthesiology's idea," Dr. Guidry wrote. "The fact that problems are surfacing is not our dilemma. The legal system has painted itself into this corner and it is not our obligation to get it out."

Read the full text of Dr. Guidry's letter