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Doctors pull plug on California execution

Participation 'ethically unacceptable'

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California: The planned execution of convicted rapist and murderer Michael Morales has been halted after two court-appointed doctors refused to participate, the BBC reports.

The anaesthesiologists were scheduled to be present at the termination at the behest of a US federal judge who agreed with defence arguments that the cocktail of lethal chemicals used might cause extreme pain if the initial dose of barbiturates proved inadequate. Accordingly, the judge ordered two doctors to attend and intervene, "in the event that Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain".

However, the two doctors declared any such intervention "medically unethical", adding: "As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process... What is being asked of us is ethically unacceptable."

San Quentin prison has now rescheduled the execution for 19:30 local (03:30 GMT) on Wednesday, and will now use a lethal dose of barbiturates instead of the usual blend.

Morales is on Death Row for the 1981 rape and murder of 17-year-old Terri Winchell. ®

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