Uncomfortably Numb

Lethal injection looks painless and peaceful. On Missouri's death row, appearances can be deceiving.

The AVMA recommends euthanizing animals with a massive overdose of a long-acting barbiturate. Anesthesiologist Mark Heath says the same logic should apply to humans. "As long as you give them enough of the barbiturate to fall asleep, they're going to stay asleep," says Heath. "When you're unconscious, nothing can be cruel.

Susan Sanford
Jennifer Silverberg

"Veterinarians favor [euthanasia] protocols that have relatively error-resistant choices of drugs," Heath goes on. "So that even if you don't give enough, the animal is not going to wake up. Veterinarians have been thinking about this for a long, long time, and they've come up with sophisticated, reasonable and error-resistant ways of doing it. Lethal injection on humans has not been afforded that same level of scrutiny and consideration, and that's what it suffers from."

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