By now you likely know a judge dismissed the unjust “assisted suicide” charge against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw.
After months of public outrage and near-universal local condemnation of the case, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane decided not to appeal the court’s decision. Barbara had faced up to 10 years in prison if the case had gone to trial.
As you can imagine, this harrowing ordeal has been a tremendous emotional burden on the Mancini family: Barbara, her husband Joe, their two daughters, and her widowed mother.
Despite her exoneration, Barbara’s family was left with an enormous financial burden of over $100,000 in legal fees. She spent eight months on unpaid leave from her job as an emergency room nurse. Her husband, a Philadelphia paramedic, had to work overtime as the family’s legal bills mount.
Compassion & Choices has long provided legal support in cases where our justice system is at odds with the reality of compassionate end-of-life care. Now, to help families like the Mancinis, we have launched a Legal Defense Fund as part of our Compassion & Choices Action Network. Through this fund, we were already able to contribute $20,000 to the Mancini family to offset their legal fees. With your help, we can help others burdened with similar injustices.
Gifts to the Legal Defense Fund will defray legal fees and associated expenses of people and organizations facing civil, criminal or disciplinary legal action. Because of its express purpose, contributions to the Fund are not tax deductible.
Barbara Mancini is like thousands of other daughters and sons caring for aging and dying parents. She sat by her father’s bedside as he suffered a painful litany of ailments, including end-stage diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease and arthritis. Enrolled in hospice, he yearned to die peacefully, at home. He gave Barbara medical power of attorney to carry out his end-of-life wishes.
Authorities allege that Barbara handed her dying father a partially filled bottle of morphine at his request — an act they construe as “assisted suicide.” A hospice nurse who arrived shortly after Joe ingested the medication called 911. Revived at the hospital, he was furious to learn that his daughter was under arrest. He died with that anguish — after the hospital gave him still more morphine — four days later.
Families suffer when loved ones die. The pain of that loss is unimaginable. And when a good death — at home, surrounded by family — goes awry, it’s doubly painful. Add to that the strain of criminal charges, lengthy legal proceedings and soaring costs … well, it’s more than anyone should have to bear.
Thank you for your generous support.
P.S. If you have not yet done so, I urge you to read Joe Mancini’s moving essay, which so beautifully captures his wife’s generous and giving nature. Read it here. Your gift to the Compassion & Choices Action Network Legal Defense Fund can have a profound impact on good people like the Mancinis who are caught in a legal nightmare.