Should Prisoners on Death Row be used for Medical Experimentation or Research – No

Human life is invaluable! That is a principal to be maintained at all costs. And even for those who doubt this premise, another one of even greater importance rises: Human dignity is inviolable! If life is an unalienable right, that must be granted to all despite their beliefs, race, religion, affiliations and other personal characteristics, one cannot doubt that dignity is the main characteristic associated to the right to live. What is life without dignity? One may even consider that life’s quality is more important than life itself. So, the loss of the right to live, is by itself punishment enough for those in the death row. The fact that someone is about to be executed doesn’t justify perpetrating offenses to its dignity, or moral integrity to not mention their physical integrity that must be assured until the execution. These rights are guaranteed by the U.S.A constitution and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 5 and 7, not to mention they are pillars to our moral and ethic codes

The human races evolution must be defined, not only on the technical advances criteria but mostly by their moral standards criteria. A just and conscientious society is surely an evolved one.

Still there are many voices that defend that in these situations, the concept of “greater good” must prevail over other basic and individual rights. To believe that those crimes (at this point medical experimentation on humans can be considered as nothing else but a despicable crime) are done on behalf of the greater good, is a subversion of all decency and the questioning of the limits one must respect in order to obtain a result.

Can results be obtained at all costs? In order to properly answer this question it is necessary to remember a not to far away past. In the II World War, German scientists perpetrated atrocities under this premise. To work for the greater good meant to break all boundaries and beyond in order to evolve, therefore working for the greater good. Was it acceptable? One shouldn’t even have to respond this question, for it is to painful to think of a different answer other than the obvious no!

There are other more practical reasons why the medical experimentation on prisoners on the death row is unacceptable though. If the penalty for the perpetrated crime is death, than that is their punishment. One cannot be punished for the same crime twice and therefore it is unacceptable that these prisoners should endure other consequences other than the penalty of their conviction. These are justice principals that must be respected in order to maintain justices integrity.

Most people believe that since a subject is in the death row, it has no real interest for society any more and is no longer a part of it, meaning that they are no longer protected by societies laws. This belief is funded in the fact that, since they haven’t respected the laws of society they should not benefit from them. But carefully notice that, laws are applicable to all individuals no matter their belief in them. One is still punished for breaking a law he doesn’t believe in and it is only reasonable that he still is under that laws application even if he doesn’t believe in it or has violated that same law.

Those who believe that a criminal has lost all rights, have forgotten or not yet learned that rights are yours by birth and to be maintained until death, human rights at least. Those who believe that this is a necessary step and a lesser evil, must be remembered that our state of evolution does not comprehend actions of this sort and that brutality and offenses of this nature are unacceptable today, even though they were considered normal a few hundred years ago. By doing so they are endangering all human evolution. And isn’t that the greater good? So even to make the greater good prevail, one cannot accept this sort of measure, let alone consider them worthier. And even if these attitudes were once sociably acceptable, they were always wrong, and morally repressed by those who represented morality.

Even tough I mentioned these laws already, it is never too much to remember them for they contain all the keywords to why it is wrong to submit prisoners on death row to medical experimentation and, of course, the legal background to such claims:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 5

“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” – – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 7

Let us also not forget the eight amendment that states: “…nor cruel an unusual punishments inflicted.”