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Atty. Gen.’s home town newspaper criticizes Mancini prosecution, urges legislature to change end-of-life law

Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper, The [Scranton] Times-Tribune, and its sister paper, The [Towanda] Daily Review, editorialized today that the state legislature should revisit the state’s end-of-life law as a result of Kane’s unjust prosecution of Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for aiding suicide in the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw.

The editorial must be a bitter pill for Kane to swallow since it criticized her for bringing the case and her statement about why she would not appeal a judge’s dismissal of the case:

“Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane attempted to cling to a rationale for her office’s wayward criminal prosecution of Barbara Mancini for alleged complicity in the supposed attempted suicide of her terminally ill father …

According to Ms. Kane, in a statement announcing the decision not to seek an appeal of the dismissal, Judge Russell had deemed inadmissible, as a matter of procedure, an incriminating statement by Mrs. Mancini that she had handed the drug to her father to fulfill his wish to die.

The judge, however, had much more to say: “The Commonwealth’s case appears to have been based on little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons – speculation, guess, and defendant’s alleged incriminating statements.”

That analysis is damning of the investigation well beyond the issue of an inadmissible statement. According to the judge, prosecutors had not even proved that a crime had been committed.

For all the trouble that the attorney general’s overreach caused Mrs. Mancini, including the loss of her job as an emergency room nurse at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, Ms. Kane’s decision not to appeal at least is a proper ending.

Now, the Legislature should revisit the relevant law to ensure that families can make gut-wrenching decisions about their dying loved ones’ medical care with the guidance of medical professionals rather than second-guessing by prosecutors.

Ironically, state Senator Daylin Leach introduced a “Death with Dignity” bill, SB 1032, last year, a few weeks before Joe Yourshaw died, but the legislature never acted on it. Let’s hope it has learned its lesson and will make it priority one to pass this bill this year to prevent another Mancini-like nightmare prosecution.

You can read the complete editorial here.