Sunday, January 23, 2011

What If They Gave an Execution . . .

...and nobody brought the implements of human destruction?

Seems like an odd idea, but this extension of the often-repeated quote from the ‘60s, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” is particularly appropriate these days.

You see, it seems that the pharmaceutical company, Hospira, Inc., the only US manufacturer of the drug sodium thiopental, has decided to stop producing the drug. It didn’t meet the main elements of their business plan, it seems.

Sodium thiopental is one of the drugs used in the cocktail that is delivered into the veins of convicts who have been handed a death penalty sentence in 34 states. It induces unconsciousness very rapidly. An unconsciousness that allows the human body to accept deadly doses of pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride without outward or otherwise visible signs of struggle.

It makes “cruel and unusual” both humane and typical.

And now, because Hospira has relocated (some would say, outsourced) its North Carolina operations to Liscate, Italy, it has dropped sodium thiopental from its line of products because the Italian government asked them to guarantee that this drug will not be used in state-sponsored executions.

They couldn’t guarantee that, even though someone in their mail room might be able to figure that out when sending this med to an address that includes the words “Department of Corrections.”

They could lie, after all and say that they are actually a department responsible for correcting overbites.

And alarmingly, this is having an impact on the number of individuals that these 34 states are slated to kill in the next few months.

From The Chron:
In Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state, the Department of Criminal Justice said Friday it is exploring the use of another anesthetic. The state has four executions scheduled between now and July but has enough sodium thiopental to carry out only two February executions, spokesman Jason Clark said.
Man, talk about crimping Texas’ style. What will Texas do if it can’t maintain its leadership position in this singular self-defining issue? It’s akin to cutting off Texas’ access to barbecue sauce. To nine millimeter ammo.

Interestingly enough, Hospira continues to produce those two other drugs, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, one of which causes paralysis, and the other stops your heart from beating. These are the main ingredients in any given state-sponsored execution. It seems that the Italian government doesn’t have an issue with these drugs, just the drug that makes state-sponsored murder…well…more friendly.

Because again, it isn’t about the taking of human life, it’s about taking it with style.

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