ST. LOUIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a medical board to suspend certification for an anesthesiologist expected to participate in upcoming executions in Missouri.
Earlier this month the Missouri Supreme Court set execution dates for two convicted killers, the first on Oct. 23. The executions will be the first since Missouri switched from a three-drug method to a single-drug protocol. Missouri will also become the first state to use the anesthetic propofol, raising concerns among some death penalty opponents who say the unproven drug could cause pain and suffering for the inmate.
The ACLU cites court documents showing that the state plans to use an anesthesiologist identified only as “M3.” The ACLU wrote to the American Board of Anesthesiology on Thursday seeking suspension of the doctor’s certification.
“In our view, the anesthesiologist at issue does not meet the professional standing requirements for certification because providing anesthesia for the purpose of causing a patient’s death violates the fundamental duty of a physician to do no harm,” Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said in the letter.
In an interview on Friday, Mittman said he is also troubled that the Missouri Department of Corrections is withholding the name of the anesthesiologist. Mittman said patients have a right to know if the doctor is willing to participate in executions.
Messages left with the Missouri Department of Corrections and the American Board of Anesthesiology were not returned.
Missouri has executed just two inmates since 2005, in part due to court battles over whether executions could violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Meanwhile, drug companies have largely stopped selling drugs for use in executions, prompting Missouri to turn to propofol, the drug that gained notoriety in the death of pop star Michael Jackson.
Allen Nicklasson is scheduled to be executed on Oct. 23 for killing Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond in 1994. Drummond stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70 in central Missouri. He was forced to drive the group west and was shot in the back of the head in a field in Lafayette County. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.
Joseph Franklin, a drifter from Alabama, faces execution on Nov. 20. He was convicted of the 1977 sniper shooting of Gerald Gordon as a crowd dispersed from a bar mitzvah in suburban St. Louis. Two others were wounded.
Franklin has said he tried to start a race war by traveling the country shooting people. When he confessed in 1994 to the shooting, he was serving several life sentences in a federal prison for killing two black joggers in Salt Lake City and an interracial couple in Madison, Wis., and the bombing of a synagogue in Chattanooga, Tenn.