Assisted suicide poison “very likely” to cause
“extreme pain” and “excruciating suffering”
Mike Gaffney must respond to these serious concerns –
Pentobarbital, the poison used in Victoria for Voluntary Assisted Suicide, and likely to be the poison used in Tasmania as a result of Mike Gaffney’s assisted suicide bill, is “very likely” to cause “extreme pain” and “excruciating suffering”, according to a recent United States court judgement.
Pentobarbital was recently approved by the Trump Administration’s Attorney General, William Barr, to be the sole ingredient in a reworked execution protocol.
On July 13, Judge Tanya Chutkan, of the US district court in Washington ordered the US Department of Justice to delay four executions the department had scheduled for July and August until further order of the court. According to a media report in The Guardian she wrote in her judgement that: “The scientific evidence before the court overwhelmingly indicates that the 2019 Protocol is very likely to cause Plaintiffs extreme pain and needless suffering during their executions,”.
Wesley Purkey was executed on July 16 using the pentobarbital protocol. A report in news.com.au recorded that: “An autopsy performed on Purkey … revealed he suffered “severe bilateral acute pulmonary oedema” and “frothy pulmonary oedema in trachea and main stem bronchi”. This means fluid quickly entered Purkey’s lungs and trachea, causing “a near-drowning” sensation which a medical expert described as “among the most excruciating feelings known to man”.” The report also mentions further testimony of medical expert, Dr Gail Van Norman, who said the flash flood-like filling of Purkey’s lungs could only occur when a person was still alive. “It is a virtual medical certainty, that most, if not all, prisoners will experience excruciating suffering, including sensations of drowning and suffocation from (the drug) pentobarbital,” she said.
Spokesperson for Live and Die Well, Ben Smith, said the revelations were extremely concerning giving that pentorbarital is likely to be the poison used for assist suicide in Tasmania should Mike Gaffney’s bill pass in to law.
Ben Smith, said:
“The evidence being presented to US courts shows that there is a significant risk of painful death for Tasmanians who use pentobarbital to end their lives.”
“I’m sure the conflict between Mr Gaffney’s claims that his bill is about relieving suffering versus the apparent reality of the impacts of the drug pentobarbital will not be lost on anyone.”
“While US human rights advocates are attempting to outlaw pentobarbital as a potentially painful and inhumane execution protocol for criminals on death row, Mike Gaffney is hastily pushing ahead
with a scheme to open access to a poisonous and dangerous Voluntary Assisted Suicide protocol for vulnerable Tasmanians.”
“It is not clear whether Mr Gaffney has properly consulted with medical experts on the risks of using pentobarbital to enable voluntary assisted suicide.”
“It is vitally important for Tasmanians to be informed of the real risks of Mr Gaffney’s bill rather than him trying to rush his dangerous bill through Parliament without proper scrutiny and examination.”
For further information: Ben Smith 0410 691 371