McALESTER, OK: McAlester Regional Health Center (MRHC) has denied
that it bowed to pressure from Human Rights Watch (HRW) when it decided
to stop providing drugs used to administer lethal injections to the
state corrections department.
"The hospital stopped sales after being pressured by HRW, an
organization that opposes the death penalty," read an article in The
Oklahoman. And the Associated Press reported, "this is the first time a
lobbying group has caused a vendor to stop doing business with the
But the hospital maintains that the CEO and key board members were not
even aware of the practice prior to receiving a letter about it from
Steve Cushing, director of marketing and strategic services, said the
hospital had supplied the drugs for 18 years, and started doing so prior
to the tenures of current senior executives. The hospital supplies all
of the pharmaceutical products used by the Department of Corrections,
not just the lethal injection drugs.
Cushing said it was only a matter of days before the decision was made,
and denied it had anything to do with threats from anti-death penalty
groups. "We decided it was not consistent with the mission of a
community hospital," Cushing said.
The Oklahoman also printed a strongly worded editorial against HRW last
week. "What troubles us is the role of HRW in this affair," it read.
"The pressure put on (McAlester's CEO) by these anti-death penalty
zealots smacks of a hit-and-run attack." However, HRW agreed that the
hospital was not responding to threats or pressure when it made its