Editorial from The Plain Dealer The Ohio House of Representatives has shown that the appearance of being tough on crime is more important than being transparent about the way the state puts someone to death.
Faced with an execution protocol fraught with problems, the House recently voted 62-27 to allow the state to keep secret the name of lethal-injection drug providers so that they won't be reluctant to participate.
House Bill 663, introduced by Republican legislators Jim Buchy of Greenville and Matt Huffman of Lima, would also prevent doctors assisting in the administration of the death penalty from having their state medical licenses revoked.
Using surreptitious means to carry out the death penalty is unacceptable. The Senate should refuse to take up House Bill 663, but if it does and the Senate approves it, Gov. Kasich should veto it.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine claims that, without the protections, the state would be unable to carry out executions. This editorial board has long opposed the death penalty. But on practical grounds, if DeWine's statement is true, Ohio should get out of the execution business. What this bill proposes is wrong.
Not only would the bill shelter drug-supplying pharmacies from identification, it also would void contracts that dictate the drugs sold cannot be used in executions. The availability of lethal-injection drugs became an issue after their manufacturers balked at their use to carry out the death penalty.
The bill also interferes with the medical community's longstanding pact about preserving life.
The Ohio State Medical Association does not take a position on capital punishment, but a letter to the House Policy & Legislative Oversight Committee from OSMA president Mary J. Wall expresses concern about any law that indemnifies doctors for assisting with the death penalty.
Licensed Ohio doctors must abide by the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics or the American Osteopathic Association Policy Compendium, which forbid their members from participating in legal executions.
"These codes articulate the enduring values of medicine as a profession and are a statement of the values to which physicians commit themselves individually and collectively," Wall's statement reads.
As this editorial board has said before, the death penalty is not a satisfactory deterrent to crime and can be abused by prosecutors who use it as tool for garnering guilty pleas.
This bill is the wrong answer to the wrong question.