NC Medical Board Defends Death Penalty Ethics Policy

The North Carolina Medical Board wants a court to throw out a lawsuit seeking to strip it of the power to discipline any physician who might help the state carry out an execution.

A threat in January to punish any doctor who takes an active role in an execution triggered a series of legal steps that have effectively halted the state's death penalty. The Attorney General's office filed the lawsuit in March after negotiations with the board failed to resolve the conflict.

The state says the board's threat has prevented it from finding a doctor willing to attend. The lawsuit claims that executions are not medical procedures and therefore don't fall under the panel's jurisdiction.

In an eight-page response, the board argues that it wasn't until after the medical board issued its position statement that the state submitted an execution protocol that considers active participation by a physician.