Across the country, columnists and editorial writers that cover their communities are starting to notice the plight of Barbara Mancini, a loving daughter who is being unjustly prosecuted by an overzealous attorney general in Pennsylvania. It’s not enough that Barbara lost her father recently, now she is being prosecuted for “assisting suicide,” when all she allegedly did was hand her father a bottle of morphine to help alleviate his suffering.
Columnists/Editorials Questioning Prosecution of Barbara Mancini for Death of Dying Dad Joe Yourshaw
Philadelphia Daily News, Oped by “Murder, She Wrote” novel series author Donald Bain, “For Barbara Mancini, there is no master detective … or justice,” Feb. 5, 2014
…Ms. Mancini has not only lost her beloved father, she’s been put on unpaid leave from her job as an ER nurse in Philadelphia. Her husband, a paramedic, must work two jobs to keep up with their bills, including more than $100,000 in legal fees that they already have incurred.
Had this case happened in Cabot Cove, Maine, the fictitious town where much of “Murder, She Wrote” takes place – and if I were writing the story – I would have [sleuth Jessica] Fletcher urging the attorney general to drop this case against Mancini.
And do you know what? That’s exactly what would happen. Yes, prosecutors take an oath to uphold the laws of the jurisdiction in which they serve, but they also have broad discretion in choosing which cases to pursue.
[Harrisburg, Pa.] Patriot-News, Editorial, “No. 6 – The Tom Corbett/Kathleen Kane feud: 13 for ’13,” Dec. 26, 2013
Kane made national headlines — and attracted criticism — for her office’s decision to pursue an assisted-suicide prosecution against Barbara Mancini, a nurse, who provided her 93-year-old father who was dying of diabetes, kidney failure, and heart problems, along with painful arthritis, with a dose of the morphine he was legally prescribed.
Los Angeles Times, Columnist Steve Lopez, “Pennsylvania case a chilling one for death-with-dignity advocates,” Nov. 5, 2013
Yourshaw was in hospice care at the time and gravely ill, with renal failure and multiple other life-threatening conditions. While his daughter was caring for him, he asked for some morphine and she handed it to him. Shortly after he took it, a hospice nurse arrived and dialed 911, and Yourshaw was revived even though, according to published reports, he had signed a do-not-resuscitate order.
He died four days later.
“He knew he was dying but he accepted dying, and my mother-in-law had accepted that he wanted to die,” said Joe Mancini, who described how his father-in-law, a World War II veteran, had become so sick “he’d be screaming in pain” just having his shirt buttoned.
Having watched my own father wither away in his last days of hospice care, I can say with certainty that if he’d asked for morphine, I’d have given him as much as he wanted. I’d have given it to him whether he wanted it to ease his pain or whether he’d made it crystal clear that he wanted me to help him die. And the idea that such an act of love and compassion can be considered a crime is beyond my comprehension.
The [Allentown, Pa.] Morning Call, Columnist Paul Carpenter, “Assisted suicide prosecution in Schuylkill County faces compelling challenge,” Sept. 21, 2013
This past week, a “petition for habeas corpus” seeking the dismissal of charges against Mancini was filed in Schuylkill County Court. In addition to citing particulars of the rulings being defied by Kane, the petition makes other compelling points about the propriety of the prosecution.
First, Mancini’s father, Joseph Yourshaw, was given a prescription for morphine, he had access to it in his home, and he was capable of administering it to himself, which is what happened after his daughter handed him the bottle on Feb. 7.
Second, there is no evidence that Mancini knew how much morphine was in the bottle, so there is no way she could have intended it as an avenue to suicide.
Third, and most disturbing, Yourshaw, suffering from terrible and terminal ailments, had a living will and a “do not resuscitate” directive that applied to any event that might lead to his peaceful death, which he stipulated should be allowed at his home and must not be prolonged….
At the hospital, he was forcibly revived in violation of his DNR directive and, when he regained consciousness, he begged the people there to “leave Barbara alone.”
Then came the most bizarre twist in the episode. “Joe was administered additional morphine while he was in the hospital,” the petition says, and he died shortly thereafter, on Feb. 11, four days after Mancini had handed him the morphine bottle.
…. it was the hospital’s morphine, not that in the bottled delivered by Mancini, that contributed to his death.
At a preliminary hearing, the petition noted, “competent testimony revealed that the only thing Ms. Mancini did was hand her father a bottle of morphine at his request.” There was nothing to indicate she opened the bottle, and on previous occasions it was clear he was capable of opening bottles and taking morphine, legally provided under prescription, by himself.
So how could Mancini be charged with a crime?
…. Under the law, if he finally decides he has suffered enough, no one would be able to help him without facing the same threats now faced by Barbara Mancini.
This is barbarism. This is the most malevolent form of sadism.
The [Scranton, Pa.] Times-Tribune, Columnist Chris Kelly (Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper), “Prosecuting woman in dad’s death is wrong choice,” Aug. 25, 2013
Considering her recent refusal to defend the state’s ugly, unconstitutional ban on gay marriage and tight resources in her office, Ms. Kane is under increasing pressure to drop this case. She should do so not for political expedience, but because putting Barbara Mancini on trial would be cruel and futile.
The jury without a few people who have sat helpless as a loved one suffered a tardy death does not exist. Pain is a universal chord. All but the hardest among us are hard-wired to soothe it. Jurors in this case would also hear from Joe Yourshaw’s widow, who stands by her daughter. And remember that Joe rebounded from his overdose. Can anyone say beyond a reasonable doubt that the morphine caused his death? More