North Carolina House considers dropping physicians from execution duties

North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh

North Carolina lawmakers want to remove a hurdle that's prevented killers from being executed since 2006.

A committee on Tuesday sent to the full House legislation that would drop a requirement that physicians must attend all executions. The measure would allow a registered nurse, paramedic or emergency medical technician to monitor a prisoner's death by lethal injection.

A physician would, however, need to be near the execution chamber to certify that the death sentence was carried out.

Lawsuits challenging doctors' roles and execution protocols have helped block executions in North Carolina for nearly nine years.

Four people have been sentenced to die in North Carolina since 2011. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that the 72 death sentences nationwide last year was the lowest in 40 years.

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