End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Barbara Mancini to Be First Beneficiary of Compassion & Choices’ Legal Defense Fundby Chris

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Fund to Help Defend People & Groups Improving Care & Expanding Choice at End of Life

(Washington, D.C. – Dec. 5, 2013) A Philadelphia nurse who is facing up to 10 years in prison if she is unjustly convicted for her terminally ill father’s death will be the first beneficiary of Compassion & Choices Action Network’s Legal Defense Fund. Despite months of public outcry and near-universal condemnation by state and national opinion writers, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane refuses to halt her unjust prosecution of Barbara Mancini for “assisted suicide” in the death of her 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw.

“As the nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy, education and support organization, we will not stand by silently when loving people face misguided and false prosecution,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a former ER and ICU nurse. “When a loved one dies, the family already suffers pain and grief from that loss. And when a good death — at home, surrounded by family — goes awry, it’s doubly painful. Add to that the strain of criminal charges, frightening legal proceedings and soaring costs … well, it’s more pain than anyone should have to bear.”

The ordeal that started 10 months ago has been a tremendous emotional burden on the Mancini family: Barbara, her husband, Joe Mancini; their two teenage girls; and Barbara’s 84-year-old widowed mother, Marge Yourshaw. Marge recently was hospitalized with chest pains. The family bears an enormous financial burden too. Barbara has been placed on unpaid leave from her job as an ER nurse. Joe, a Philadelphia paramedic, must work overtime as the family’s legal bills mount. They already exceed $100,000.

Gifts to the Compassion & Choices Action Network’s Legal Defense Fund will defray legal fees and associated expenses of people and organizations facing civil, criminal or disciplinary legal action for improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. Given this express purpose, contributions to the Fund are not tax deductible. People donate to the Compassion & Choices Action Network’s Legal Defense Fund by visiting: www.compassionandchoices.org/legal-defense-fund or bit.ly/1dS7AGz.

Authorities claim Barbara Mancini handed Joe his prescription morphine — at his request — to ease his severe pain from end-stage diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease and arthritis. A hospice nurse who arrived shortly after Joe ingested the medication called 911. Revived at the hospital, he was furious to learn his daughter was under arrest. He died with that anguish four days later, ironically, after the hospital gave him more morphine. Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell is considering the defense’s motion to dismiss the case. Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s motion to dismiss the case.

“Barbara Mancini is like thousands of other daughters and sons caring for aging and dying parents,” added Coombs Lee. “Joe gave Barbara medical power of attorney and trusted her to carry out his wish to die peacefully, at home. Most Americans believe the strong arm of government policy power has no place at the bedside of dying patients. Intimate, personal decisions patients make with their loved ones, in the privacy of their own home should be safe from prying eyes and judgmental busybodies.”

Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520-c, scrowley@compassionandchoices.org