End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

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New Haven Register: new C&C poll shows 65% of CT residents support for aid in dying

Photo Credit: Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register

According to a statewide poll commissioned by Compassion & Choices, 65 percent of state residents favor such a bill, which would permit doctors to prescribe lethal medication to medically competent patients who have less than six months to live.

The story also featured an interview with Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey McIntyre, who met with the paper’s editorial board.

You can read more about the poll by clicking here.

 

Newspapers urge Pa. Atty. Gen. not to appeal dismissal of assisted suicide case against Barbara Mancini

Since a judge’s Feb., 11 dismissal of the unjust “assisted suicide” case against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw, many Pennsylvania newspapers have published columns or editorials urging Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane not to appeal the ruling. Kane faces a Mar. 13 deadline to file an appeal, but the newspaper columns and editorials are blasting her office for even bringing the case in the first place. The most recent one today by The [Allentown] Morning Call says her “credibility has been hurt” by the judge’s “scathing court ruling.”

Below are excerpts of the best columns and editorials:

The [Allentown, Pa.] Morning Call, Kathleen Kane’s credibility as state attorney general has been hurt by a scathing court ruling,” Feb. 19, 2014

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s criminal case against a woman who tried to help her dying 93-year-old father was not just weak. It was, as revealed in a scathing court ruling last week, nonexistent.

It was an outrage, although not a surprise, that the prosecution of Barbara Mancini had been approved in a preliminary hearing by Pottsville Magisterial District Judge James Reiley. Many DJs rubber-stamp anything put in front of them by prosecutors.

The surprise, a stunning one, was that the attorney general of Pennsylvania pursued this case in defiance of a state law, which should be clear to anyone who can read. She also defied a key ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge, however, went far beyond that, using words like “deceptive” and “strident” to describe the way Kane went after Mancini. Going by this ruling, one gets the impression that Kane has all the compassion and grace of Attila the Hun ….more

The [Harrisburg, Pa.] Patriot News (state capitol newspaper)Will Kathleen Kane finally ensure justice in Mancini case? Editorial,” Feb. 17, 2014

A word of advice to Attorney General Kathleen Kane as she decides whether to appeal a judge’s dismissal of charges against Barbara Mancini:

Don’t.                                                                

Don’t prolong the agony inflicted by an end-of-life case that produced needless suffering, both to the man who was dying and to the adult daughter who tried to abide by his wishes.

Don’t keep trying to prosecute a woman, herself a nurse, who did only what her dying father, who was in excruciating pain, asked her to do: hand him his pain-relieving medicine.

Barbara Mancini is no criminal. She told the hospice staff what she’d done for her father, 93-year-old Joseph Yourshaw of Pottsville. She knew she’d done nothing wrong. She honored his request to help relieve his pain, which is perfectly legal…more

The [Carlisle, Pa.] Sentinel, Editorial, “Our View: Appeal in Mancini case unwarranted,” Feb. 16, 2014

Judicial chastisement for prosecutorial ineptness is difficult for any lawyer to swallow. If the state’s top law enforcement officer is on the receiving end, the slapdown carries a double sting.

Such admonishment came Tuesday from Schuykill County Court Judge Jacqueline Russell to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane regarding the commonwealth’s attempt to prosecute Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini on assisted suicide charges in connection with the death of her 93-year-old, terminally ill father.

Judge Russell wrote in dismissing the charges that the state’s case against 58-year-old Mancini “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.”…more

Philadelphia Daily News (Barbara Mancini’s home town newspaper), “DN Editorial: CURSE OF KANE,” Feb. 14, 2014

Attorney General Kathleen Kane…inexplicably prosecuted a dutiful, loving daughter for allegedly assisting her father’s suicide.

Kane lost the case this week against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini, which was thrown out by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell. The 47-page decision chastised Kane’s attempt to build a prosecution on “little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons – speculation, guess and defendant’s alleged incriminating statements.”

… The damage to Kane, of course, is of no concern compared to the horrendous damage she inflicted upon Mancini, accused of killing her father, Joe Yourshaw, 93, whom she’d been caring for in his Pottsville home duing the excruciating pain and suffering of his terminal illness …more

The [Scranton, Pa.] Times-Tribune (Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper), Editorial, “Forgo appeal on Mancini,” Feb. 14, 2014

 It turns out that the fundamental problem wasn’t public policy, but that the attorney general’s office presented a lousy case.

The judge appears to have committed a mercy killing of a bad case. Mrs. Kane should let it go…more

Compassion & Choices Urges PA AG Not to Appeal Dismissal of Case Against Philadelphia Nurse for Her Dad’s Death

Barbara Mancini Issues First Statement Since Gag Order Expired

(Philadelphia, Pa. – Feb. 12, 2014) Compassion & Choices urged Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to appeal the dismissal Tuesday of an unjust felony “assisted suicide” case against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw.

The [Allentown] Morning Call reported Tuesday night that a Kane spokesman said that it was too soon to say if her office would appeal the ruling by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell. By law, the Attorney General’s office has 30 days after Tuesday’s ruling to file an appeal. Russell granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the case because the judge said:

“…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.”

“We urge Attorney General Kane not to extend this yearlong travesty of justice by appealing this ruling,” Compassion & Choices Communications & Marketing Director Gwen Fitzgerald said during a 2:30pm news conference at the Mancini’s home. “The Mancinis have been tormented enough with this unjust and unsubstantiated charge. It is time for the Attorney General’s office to concentrate on prosecuting real criminals, not loving family caregivers like Barbara Mancini.”

Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s motion to dismiss the “assisted suicide” charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“My family and I extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the people who have given us words of encouragement and emotional support,” said Barbara Mancini, who had been unable to speak about the case until now because of a gag order. “Compassion and Choices worked tirelessly to shine the public spotlight on this case. We are grateful to the journalists who have exposed the injustice of my prosecution and the violation of my father’s end-of-life directives.”

Compassion & Choices also presented to the Mancini family a giant check for $20,000 that it raised through its Compassion & Choices Legal Defense Fund to offset the Mancini family’s legal fees in excess of $100,000. Barbara Mancini has been on unpaid administrative leave from her nursing job. Her husband, Joe Mancini, has had to work extra shifts as a paramedic to make up for the lost family income.

Police claimed Barbara, whom Joe had designated his medical power of attorney to ensure his wishes would be honored, handed him a partially filled bottle of prescribed morphine at his request on Feb. 7, 2013. Joe drank it to ease his severe pain from end-stage diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure. A hospice nurse arrived at Joe’s home after he drank the morphine and found him unresponsive. Despite his clear instructions to hospice caregivers and a do-not-resuscitate order, a hospice employee called 911. EMTs responded and transported Joe to the hospital, where he was revived. Joe was angry to learn that police had charged Barbara with assisted suicide. Joe died four days later, ironically after the hospital gave him more morphine to ease his pain.

Compassion & Choices provided pro bono legal advice and publicized the case nationally, generating 21 national and state columns and editorials criticizing Attorney General Kane for pursuing this unjust case. More than 7,500 people called, signed an online letter or MoveOn.org Partner Petition sponsored by Compassion & Choices urging Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane to drop the unjust prosecution of Barbara Mancini.

Compassion & Choices Applauds Dismissal of Unjust “Assisted Suicide” Case Against Philadelphia Nurse for Her Father’s Death

Decision is Victory for Dying Patients and Families Nationwide, Compassion & Choices Says

(Pottsville, Pa. – Feb. 11, 2014) The nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy organization, Compassion & Choices, praised the dismissal today of an unjust felony “assisted suicide” case against a Philadelphia nurse as a victory for dying patients and autonomy at the end of life. Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the case against Barbara Mancini for the death of her 93-year-old, terminally ill father, Joe Yourshaw, of Pottsville, exactly one year to the day that Joe died. The conclusion of Judge Russell’s decision was:

“A jury may not receive a case where it must rely on conjecture to reach a verdict. As the case presented to the court would not warrant submission to a jury due to the lack of competent evidence elicited by the Commonwealth on the crime charged – with the Commonwealth’s reliance on speculation and guess serving as an inappropriate means to prove its case – Defendant’s petition for habeas corpus is being granted.”

Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s brief and motion to dismiss the “assisted suicide” charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“The Mancini family’s year-long nightmare finally is over. This unjust prosecution upended this family’s life and livelihood and delayed their grieving for their patriarch Joe Yourshaw.  This case demonstrates that the government has no business interfering in families’ end-of-life decisions,” said Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey MacIntyre. “This prosecution could have chilled end-of-life decisions and pain care for millions of future terminally ill patients who simply want to die at home, peacefully and with dignity.” More

On The Trail, The Political Becomes Personal [online poll]

[Excerpt of article]

Gary Holder-Winfield watched his mother die a slow painful death over four years in the hospital. That helped convince him to embrace a controversial bill coming up in the state legislature—to allow physicians to help terminally ill patients take their lives.

Holder-Winfield, a state representative, reflected on his personal transformation on that issue as he trudged up the hills of Upper Westville Sunday afternoon.

He trudged carefully. The sidewalks were treacherously icy. He slipped repeatedly, nearly falling and scattering campaign brochures all over the ice-encrusted snow-white lawns on Stevenson Road. Then he resumed speaking about his mother’s death as he met a basement room full of Democrats, about how he sees his pursuit of elected office as a continuation of her legacy.

Read the entire article here.