End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Mancini

For Barbara Mancini, there is no master detective … or justice

By Donald Bain, Wednesday, February 5, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN EACH of the 43 “Murder, She Wrote” novels I’ve written, based on the popular TV show of the same name, a murder is committed. Someone in the prime of life is denied many years of fulfillment and happiness. Toward the end of each book, the murderer is identified through the fictitious Jessica Fletcher’s sleuthing, and justice is served, as it should be.

But then there’s the case in Pennsylvania of Barbara Mancini, an exemplary woman, wife, mother of two teenage children, devoted daughter and nurse who is in serious legal trouble because of an overzealous state attorney general.

She is facing up to a 10-year prison sentence if she is wrongfully convicted for “assisting suicide” for allegedly handing her 93-year old father, Joseph Yourshaw – suffering debilitating pain from end-stage diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease and arthritis – his partially filled bottle of legally prescribed morphine to help ease his pain in his final days.

Read more here...

 

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

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

Compassion & Choices Action Network Legal Defense Fund

By now you know the plight of Barbara Mancini, the Pennsylvania woman who stands accused of “assisted suicide” in the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw.

Despite months of public outrage and near-universal local condemnation, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane refuses to back down on her unjust prosecution of Barbara. As the case heads for trial, Barbara faces up to 10 years in prison.

As you can imagine, this harrowing ordeal is a tremendous emotional burden on the Mancini family — Barbara, her husband Joe, their children, and her widowed mother.

Yet the family also bears an enormous financial burden. Barbara has been placed on unpaid leave from her job as an ER nurse. Her husband, a Philadelphia paramedic, must 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 a Legal Defense Fund as part of our Compassion & Choices Action Network.

Please make a gift to the Compassion & Choices
Action Network’s Legal Defense Fund today.

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.

You can help Compassion & Choices Action Network
fight legal battles like this.
Contribute to our Legal Defense Fund today.

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.

My Loving Wife, Barbara Mancini

By Joe Mancini
October 1, 2013

I would like to tell you a little about my wife, Barbara, and just some of the things she has done for her father, Joe Yourshaw; mother, Marge; and other family members to let you know that she has always been very lovingly active in our lives.

Several years ago, Barb was the one who urged her father to make a doctor’s appointment after pointing out to him that he was diabetic and had high blood pressure. It had been over 30 years since he last saw a doctor, but Barb was able to convince him to do so, and with that visit the doctor confirmed that he in fact did have uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. The doctor prescribed a course of medications, which he faithfully took, and he would record his blood sugar and blood pressure readings daily, anxiously showing Barb his results on her many visits.

In 2003, Barb was the one who realized that her father was having a stroke. At that time, Barb’s parents had a second home in Florida, where her father would spend up to nine months a year fixing up and maintaining that home and acres of property. One day he called Barb’s mother (who was back at their Pottsville home) and asked her to get an old set of crutches that they had stored away many years ago and bring them down to Florida thinking that he had overworked his joints because one of his legs was not working, and he was having weakness in his right arm and falling a lot.

Funny thing, Barb’s mom got the crutches, picked up a son-in-law that was in the area and started to drive the over 1,800 miles down to Florida!  En route to Florida, she called Barb to tell her what she was doing. While they were continuing their trek, Barb immediately called her father. After telling Barb his symptoms, Barb told him that it sounded like he was having a stroke and to call 911. He refused, thinking that he had just overworked himself. Barb, out of great concern for her father, then called his doctor in Pottsville, and with both her and the doctor on the line, convinced her father to call 911. Her father then proceeded to drag himself around the house, got changed, packed a suitcase and dragged himself out to the driveway, where the EMS crew found him. Barb’s father was taken to the local hospital where it was confirmed that he in fact had a stroke, and after much treatment, he fully recovered. The point is that Barb actually gave her father many more years of quality life due to her recognizing his symptoms and lovingly convincing him to seek immediate emergency care, not just for the stroke, but also for his diabetes and high blood pressure. More

Compassion and Choices Op-Ed in USA Today

Chances are you either are a Baby Boomer, or you know one or two pretty well. Well, this USA Today column from Compassion & Choices’ own Gwen Fitzgerald is for you. Read about how the prosecution of a single Pennsylvania woman could seriously affect your end-of-life options, and even put you and your family at serious risk.

From the op-ed:

On Aug. 1, a Schuylkill County magistrate ordered 57-year-old Barbara Mancini to stand trial in the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw. Prosecutors from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office charged Barbara with assisted suicide for allegedly handing her father his prescribed morphine, which he consumed. Barbara was there to relieve her mother, Marge, of caregiving duties for Joe, who was in home hospice care as his death approached.

[...]

What happened next should disturb every American. Despite Joe’s advance directive and Barbara’s instruction, in her role as his attorney-in-fact for healthcare, to refrain from intrusive medical interventions, EMTs took Joe to the hospital. Then a police captain took Barbara to the courthouse and charged her with assisted suicide, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

When hospital staff revived Joe he immediately expressed his anger at hospice for removing him from his home. When he learned Barbara was in legal trouble, he was even more furious. He died four days later in the hospital. Imagine … a dying man’s last thought is of his loving daughter’s arrest for the supportive and respectful way she cared for him!

This is absolutely chilling stuff, everyone. If we let Pennsylvania even charge Barbara Mancini with a crime, it sets a dangerous precedent for us all. As Baby Boomers age, this problem of unjust prosecution is only going to grow – unless we send politicians the message to stop it here, now.

You can help: Tell Kathleen Kane to drop the charges against Barbara Mancini now.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.