Good Law | Bad Law #102 - Is Lethal Injection Fatally Flawed on Moral and Constitutional Grounds? w/ Dr. Joel Zivot

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What are the moral and ethical challenges with the death penalty today?  Not even so much whether to have a death penalty – which is a crucially important question, of course – but what are the moral dimensions of using lethal injection to carry out executions?  And what moral implications are there because medicine used to heal, here is used to kill?  And what about the requirement that health care professionals must engage in the act of taking a life?


Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast series Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Dr. Joel Zivot to discuss the case of Russel Bucklew a death row inmate in Missouri who claims lethal injection would violate his 8thAmendment rights.


Russel Bucklew suffers from an illness called cavernous hemangioma, a disease that causes weak and damaged blood vessels. Bucklew contends that pentobarbital, the drug Missouri uses when executing inmates by lethal injection, would not circulate through his blood properly. As a result, Bucklew and some doctors believe he would hemorrhage, choke on his own blood, and suffocate.


Dr. Zivot testified on Mr. Bucklew’s behalf saying, “If we are going to have capital punishment, it has to be done correctly.” In today’s episode, Dr. Zivot walks Aaron through the intricacies of the case and Mr. Bucklew’s illness. Dr. Zivot states during the episode, Mr. Bucklew isn’t challenging his sentence, he just wants his sentence issued in a way that doesn’t cause him torture. Instead of lethal injection, Mr. Bucklew has requested the state use lethal gas, a method that is approved in Missouri.


Join Aaron and Dr. Joel Zivot for today’s discussion on the 8th Amendment and a death-row prisoner’s right to health care.


Host: Aaron Freiwald

Guest: Dr. Joel Zivot