Barbara Mancini, a Pennsylvania nurse and Compassion & Choices volunteer, spoke at the Cato Institute policy forum “What Are the Rights of the Dying?” last month before a packed room — despite a historic blizzard that shut down Washington, D.C., days earlier.
Mancini’s story is as powerful as it is horrifying. She was arrested and charged with aiding the “attempted suicide” of her 93-year-old terminally ill father — who she had been helping provide home hospice care for — by handing him his prescription morphine, which he consumed. Despite his advance directive and DNR, he was resuscitated, ultimately dying in the hospital four days later. After a yearlong legal battle, the charges against Mancini were dropped, and she has worked with C&C ever since.
At the forum, Mancini addressed how we die differently in 2016. “Fifty years ago people lived shorter lives. Now people die older and sicker; 80% of people will die in hospitals and nursing homes,” she explained, noting how it contrasts with the way most people want to die — at home, with their pain and discomfort managed, their spiritual needs respected, and without burdening their families.
“I come to this issue from a unique perspective,” Mancini said, whose story also illustrates another, less visible benefit of aid-in-dying laws: They protect the families and physicians who provide end-of-life care.
Watch a video of the event here.