By carrying out the death penalty, we are demeaned in so many ways that we may not even notice. Jim Mustian's poignant description of the execution of Troy Davis by lethal injection in Georgia ("An execution through the eyes of a reporter," column, Sept. 24) includes his observation that, "death by lethal injection is rather anticlimactic. It was so unclear when Davis had died that two doctors were needed to check his heartbeat, which was stopped by an injection of potassium chloride." He earlier said: "Davis lay strapped to the gurney under a white sheet ... the room ... looked much like a hospital room."

Society recognizes that we need physicians trained in the healing arts, so medical education in this country is heavily subsidized by the government -- by taxpayers. Patients receive subsidized care in teaching hospitals.

Upon graduation, these two doctors referenced in the column took an oath that undoubtedly included a vow to "First, do no harm." The American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, the World Medical Association and many other medical groups clearly have stated that it is unethical for a health professional to participate in the death penalty in any way. And yet, here, without indication of concern, is the comment that Georgia needs physicians to kill a person.

These physicians, although trained to heal, are making a living at least in part by helping to kill. They may have felt more comfortable in a room that looked like a hospital, but they were demeaning all those who sacrificed so that they may learn their profession. And they demean us all in the process.

Dr. Gregg F. Wright, former director, Nebraska Department of Health