Oregon governor John Kitzhaber has just taken it upon himself to go against the vote of the people and the state constitution and end the death penalty as long as he is governor.
Kitzhaber was an emergency room physician when he entered into state politics. He was first elected governor in 1995 and served until 2003 and was re-elected in a very tight race in 2010. During his first tenure as governor, Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act on Oct. 27, 1997. This act allows for physician assisted suicide. Being a former emergency room doctor, Kitzhaber readily signed the bill into law. Obviously he has no problem with helping to execute someone who is terminally ill and wishes to die.
In 1984, Oregon voters passed Measure 6 which amended the state constitution legalizing the death penalty for murder cases. Measure 7 was also passed at the same time which requires a separate hearing in front of a jury for the sentencing of cases involving aggravated murder.
During Kitzhaber’s first tenure as governor, two criminals were put to death under the provisions of Measures 6 and 7. He now says that he has long regretted the fact that he allowed these two executions to take place.
Now, Gary Haugen is scheduled to death by lethal injection on Dec. 6. Haugen was given the death penalty for the 2003 murder of a fellow inmate. The victim sustained 84 stab wounds and his skull was crushed in. Haugen was already serving a life sentence for brutally bludgeoning his girlfriend’s mother to death. He has waived his appeals, opening him up to be executed in a couple of weeks.
In stopping Haugen’s death sentence, Kitzhaber said,
“I simply cannot participate once again in something that I believe to be morally wrong…It is time for this state to consider a different approach.”
I agree that they need a different approach. I would first speed up the appeal process and use mandatory DNA testing if applicable to determine guilt or innocence Then I recommend public executions either by hanging or firing squad. Public executions have long served as a better deterrent to crime than our current system that lets them back on the streets in a few years to do it again.When Kitzhaber ran for re-election as governor in 2010, he made it known that he was still a licensed physician in Oregon and that the oath he took as a physician to do no harm is one of the main reasons he is opposed to the death penalty.
So his conscience to carry out the execution of someone who viciously beats and stabs others to death causes him to recall his doctors oath to do no harm, while at the same time his conscience is not affected in the least by his signature on the Death with Dignity Act, allowing hundreds of Oregon citizens to take their own lives with the help of a doctor. Shouldn’t that also be a violation of his doctor’s oath? I guess Kitzhaber took the wrong oath when he became a doctor. He obviously took the Hypocritic Oath instead of the Hippocratic Oath, but then being a Democrat, I’m not surprised.