PA AG Urged Never to Prosecute Family Members Who Care for Dying Parents
(Harrisburg, Pa. – Feb. 24, 2014) Compassion & Choices praised today’s decision by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to appeal the dismissal of a felony “assisted suicide” charge against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini. Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s motion to dismiss the case.
Mancini faced up to 10 years in prison if she was convicted for allegedly handing her dying 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw, his prescription morphine at his request four days before he died.
“This abuse of power caused extraordinary emotional and financial hardship for the Mancini family, violated Joe Yourshaw’s desire for a peaceful death and wasted taxpayer resources on an unsubstantiated case,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who was an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. “Attorney General Kane’s decision to accept this dismissal should serve as an important lesson to prosecutors nationwide: Government officials should not interfere in families’ private medical decisions.” More
Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520
End-of-Life Legal Experts Say State’s Case Has No Legal Foundation
(Pottsville, Pa. – Aug. 1, 2013) Following a preliminary hearing today, legal experts from the nation’s leading end-of-life choice group urged the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to drop an assisted suicide charge against a woman who was present when her 93-year-old, terminally ill father ingested morphine to relieve his pain and later died because the case has no legal foundation. Authorities allege that Barbara Mancini, a registered nurse from Philadelphia, handed her father, Joe Yourshaw of Pottsville, a partially filled bottle of morphine at his request. They claim that this act constitutes “assisted suicide.”
Joe Yourshaw was dying. He suffered from multiple medical conditions that caused him extreme pain: end stage diabetes, extensive heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, and arthritis. Dying patients have a constitutional right to adequate pain medication, even if it advances the time of death. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized this right in two landmark cases, Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, both brought by Compassion & Choices’ predecessor organization, Compassion in Dying. More
CONTACT: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520-c, [email protected]
Cancer Patient Seeks Ruling that Doctors Can Provide Aid in Dying in New Mexico
(Washington, D.C. – July 10, 2013) Veteran Hollywood actor Elliott Gould recalls visiting his friend Groucho Marx during his last, painful days of life in the summer issue of Compassion & Choices Magazine (see pages 26-27).
Gould became a star in 1969 when his co-starring role in the sex comedy Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice earned him an Oscar nomination, and he followed that up in 1970 with his co-starring role as Trapper John in M*A*S*H. He continues to work steadily and has done hundreds of films, including The Long Goodbye, American History X, and Ocean’s 11 and its sequels. He’s also well-known to a younger generation as the father of Ross and Monica Geller in the long-running TV sitcom Friends. More
HONOLULU (July 2, 2013)—Compassion & Choices mourns the passing and lauds the work of former Hawaii state representative Ernest “Juggie” Heen, who died June 30 in Honolulu at age 82 after a long bout with cancer.
Juggie was a tireless advocate for end-of-life choice in the 50th state. He was instrumental in helping to launch the Compassion & Choices “Join Juggie” campaign to activate Hawaii’s constellation of laws that empower terminally ill, mentally competent patients to make their own decisions about end-of-life care, treatment for pain and aid in dying. Thanks to his efforts, he had a choice at the end of life—as do the thousands of Hawaii residents who have attended Compassion & Choices meetings and trainings, considered requests for aid in dying, or simply become more aware of their options for a peaceful death. More
Vermont made history in May 2013 when its legislature became the first to authorize access to aid in dying. “Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont legislators have shattered a barrier by becoming the first politicians to show the courage to enact a death-with-dignity law,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee about the impactful win. Vermont is now the fourth state to affirmatively allow physician aid in dying and the first in the East. Oregon and Washington both sanctioned the practice through ballot initiatives, while Montana affirmed this option for the terminally ill via a state Supreme Court ruling in Compassion & Choices’ Baxter v. Montana case.
The Vermont bill is also unique in that it starts with rigorous requirements similar to the Oregon and Washington laws, including mandates for waiting periods, second opinions and extensive physician reporting. But after three years it transitions to a model governed by best practice standards, as in Montana. “Professional practice standards guide all of medicine, and it is appropriate for aid in dying to be governed in this manner,” explained Compassion & Choices Legal Affairs Director Kathryn Tucker, who testified before both the Vermont House and Senate in favor of the bill and also served as lead counsel in the Baxter case. More