Lethalinjection entails introducing one or more harmful drugs likepotassium solution or a paralytic drug with the primary aim ofcausing immediate death. Lethal injection is mostly used duringcapital punishment however, it is sometimes used in mercy killingsor suicide. The injection usually causes a peaceful death by firstinhibiting the ability to breathe, stops the functioning of theheart, and finally, kills the brain. Deadly inoculations wereinitially used in the United States of America as means of executinginmates, who had been sentenced to death, but the injections are nowbeing used by many countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, amongothers either for executions or euthanasia. In this case, the essaywill discuss how the most commonly used drugs like propofol andpentobarbital, known as sodium thiopental, cause deaths and theethical concepts concerning them.
Thelethal injection dosage of sodium thiopental is usually between twoto five grams. Sodium thiopental is an ultra-short acting barbituratewhich causes loss of consciousness within 30-45 seconds after theinjection (Girish et al., 2013). However, an injection of about fivegrams can cause unconsciousness within 10 seconds after theadministration. If the drug is administered in full dosages, itreaches the brain within 30 seconds and immediately makes the personto be unconscious. The drug is so fast that within the first five to25 minutes after the injection, approximately 17 percent of the drugis found in the brain while the remaining 83 percent is in the restof the body (Girish et al., 2013). When sodium thiopental is beingused in mercy killings, intravenous injection has been the mostproven and rapid way to accomplish it. The first step is usually toinduce a coma by administering 20 mg/kg of the drug in smallquantities of about ten milliliters of physiological saline. The drugcan be combined with a muscle relaxant to guarantee its optimalavailability in the body. The drug works by acting on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABAa) receptors to reduce neuronal activities (Girishet al., 2013). As a result, activities such as breathing andheartbeats are reduced thus causing death. In lethal killings, alarge dosage is often administered thus leading to a rapid loss ofconsciousness. Death often occurs after 10 minutes after theinjection.
Propofolis a drug that can be used both as a seductive and lethal injection,especially during the executions (Nishimoto et al., 2015). The drugworks the same way as sodium thiopental whereby it leads to decreasedlevels of consciousness and disruptions of the memory for events.Also, the drug can cause death through irregular heartbeats and lowblood pressure (Nishimoto et al., 2015). However, propofol isbelieved to have various mechanisms through which it can cause death.These mechanisms include potentiating the gamma-amino butyric acid(GABAa) receptors activities as well as acting as sodium channelblockers (Nishimoto et al., 2015). Propofol causes a significantreduction in the way that the brain integrates information. Besides,the drug is associated with reduced cerebral metabolic rate due tolow consumption of oxygen in the body. The unconsciousness resultsfrom the reduced intracranial pressure and cerebral blood flow.
TheReasons Why Is Considered Inhumane
Manyissues surround the use of drugs to kill voluntarily orinvoluntarily. Some people argue that lethal injection is an inhumaneway to execute a person as compared to other ways that can be usedduring executions such as electrocution or hanging. The first reasonwhy lethal injection is considered inhumane is that the method mightnot be as painless as the supporters of the killing style would argue(Rosenbaum et al., 2015). For example, sodium thiopental is deemed tobe an ultrashort-acting barbiturate whose opiate function can wearoff within a short period. As a result, the individual being executedmay gain consciousness and thus be exposed to discomfort and a lot ofpain during the killing process. However, he might not be able toexpress the pain that he is going through because in most cases theperson is paralyzed by a paralytic agent. The drug should be used insurgical procedures instead of being administered in killings sinceit exposes the individuals being killed to dehumanizing pain.Besides, lethal injections procedures are taken to be inhumanebecause their administrations are flawed since the personnel whoadminister them are not qualified, and they lack expertise in thefield of anesthesia (Rosenbaum et al., 2015). As a result, there arehigher probabilities that they might fail to induce unconsciousness.Therefore, the inmate will die a very agonizing death.
Tosum up, lethal injection is a method that is widely used in executingprisoners through inoculating them with toxic drugs that paralyze aperson. Both propofol and sodium thiopental affect the heart beats,blood pressure, brain, and breathing to execute an individual. Thesemethods are considered to be painless ways of killing, but they arenot, because a drug like sodium thiopental has anesthetic effectsthat are capable of lasting for a short duration. Therefore, lethalinjection is an inhumane and painful way of killing.
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Nishimoto,R., Kashio, M., & Tominaga, M. (2015). Propofol-induced painsensation involves multiple mechanisms in sensory neurons. PflügersArchiv-European Journal of Physiology,467(9),2011-2020.
Rosenbaum,K. B., Darby, W. C., & Weinstock, R. (2015). EthicalResponsibilities of Physicians: Capital Punishment in the 21stCentury. PsychiatricAnnals,45(12),615-621.