End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Why Is Barbara Mancini Facing a Felony Charge in Her Father’s Death?by Sonja

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The bizarre case against 57-year-old Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, drags on: Police allege that she handed her dying father, Joe Yourshaw, his bottle of prescription morphine, which he requested. He consumed a more than the prescribed dose and lost consciousness. EMTs then transported him to the hospital and personnel there revived him despite his signed do-not-resuscitate order, He died four days later. Barbara was arrested and charged with “assisted suicide,” a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. At the August 1 preliminary hearing, prosecutors from Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office refused to drop the charges. She will stand trial early next year.

Compassion & Choices exposed this injustice and mobilized thousands of people nationwide to stand with this daughter who merely did her best to help care for her dad and respect his wishes. Dozens of media outlets around the nation have called attention to this travesty of justice, with readers, commentators and opinion writers nearly unanimous in opposition to Barbara’s prosecution. Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey MacIntyre appeared on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and pointed out that Joe Yourshaw’s “healthcare proxy was arrested while he was unconscious, so she wasn’t even able to bring forward what his wishes were; it just adds to the ludicrous nature of this situation.” Director of Communications & Marketing Gwen Fitzgerald said in her USA Today op-ed: “This case could be the bellwether for my generation. Millions of families across America are facing end-of-life decisions every day, as we baby boomers care for our parents. The story resonates as we, ourselves, age. Do the 75 million+ boomers need to fear the long arm of government literally reaching into our living rooms to seize authority for our medical decisions?”

Our grassroots efforts to garner support for Mancini continue to put pressure on the prosecutors. More than 5,000 people have taken direct action, including sending letters to and calling the attorney general’s office and signing a petition, which you can still sign to show you stand with Barbara Mancini. Together we can defeat this egregious threat to end-of-life autonomy and waste of public resources, and help a family begin to properly grieve and heal.

Barbara’s next court appearance is expected before Nov. 1. Please help us top 7,500 signatures by then to demand the charge be dropped.