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The U.S. Supreme Court has just refused to hear a case where a condemned prisoner claimed that the use of certain drugs was ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.

All but one of the U.S. states with the death penalty and the federal government use lethal injection for executions. Nebraska alone requires electrocution.

The standard method involves administering three separate drugs: sodium pentothal, an anesthetic, which makes the inmate unconscious; pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes all muscles except the heart; and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart, causing death.

Only the state of Oregon permits physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill and this must be by oral ingestion of a doctor’s prescription. Usually it is Nembutal, sometimes Seconal. Inducing death by lethal injection (as in the previous paragraph) is unlawful in Oregon.

Further literature on end of life choices, euthanasia, etc at the ERGO bookstore.

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