Chances are you either are a Baby Boomer, or you know one or two pretty well. Well, this USA Today column from Compassion & Choices’ own Gwen Fitzgerald is for you. Read about how the prosecution of a single Pennsylvania woman could seriously affect your end-of-life options, and even put you and your family at serious risk.
On Aug. 1, a Schuylkill County magistrate ordered 57-year-old Barbara Mancini to stand trial in the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw. Prosecutors from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office charged Barbara with assisted suicide for allegedly handing her father his prescribed morphine, which he consumed. Barbara was there to relieve her mother, Marge, of caregiving duties for Joe, who was in home hospice care as his death approached.[...]
What happened next should disturb every American. Despite Joe’s advance directive and Barbara’s instruction, in her role as his attorney-in-fact for healthcare, to refrain from intrusive medical interventions, EMTs took Joe to the hospital. Then a police captain took Barbara to the courthouse and charged her with assisted suicide, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
When hospital staff revived Joe he immediately expressed his anger at hospice for removing him from his home. When he learned Barbara was in legal trouble, he was even more furious. He died four days later in the hospital. Imagine … a dying man’s last thought is of his loving daughter’s arrest for the supportive and respectful way she cared for him!
This is absolutely chilling stuff, everyone. If we let Pennsylvania even charge Barbara Mancini with a crime, it sets a dangerous precedent for us all. As Baby Boomers age, this problem of unjust prosecution is only going to grow – unless we send politicians the message to stop it here, now.