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Press Release: Death with Dignity Stalls in Massachusetts Legislature Despite Broad Public Support

Compassion & Choices Urges Committee to Move Legislation to the Floor

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2014

(Boston) – Today lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Public Health in the Massachusetts legislature recommended a study order on legislation that has broad popular support in the state, the Terminally Ill Patient’s Right to Compassionate Aid-in-Dying act. Marie Manis, Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices Massachusetts, issued the following statement in response to the vote:

“If these legislators are listening to their constituents, they will move quickly and take this bill up, again, for the sake of thousands of terminally ill Massachusetts residents and the people who love them. This is good legislation, and we are confident that with further study, the Committee will recognize its merits.  Given the depth of support for it, we fully expect the passage of death-with-dignity legislation in the Commonwealth. Since the ballot initiative on this issue, public support has grown tremendously. Citizens understand their government has no business interfering in their personal medical decisions and limiting their end-of-life choices.”

A Purple Insights poll from February 2014 shows 71 percent of likely Massachusetts voters support the legislation and 79 percent oppose government meddling in the private decisions terminally ill patients make with their families and doctors. 73 percent, including 65 percent of Catholics, said they would want to have the option available to end their own lives should they become terminally ill. More

Compassion & Choices Praises Decision Not to Appeal Dismissal of Unjust “Assisted Suicide” Case

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

Pa. Atty. Gen. Should Drop Case Against Woman Who Cared for Her Dying Father

Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520
[email protected]

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

Famed Actor Elliott Gould Recalls Groucho Marx’s Final Days

Elliott GouldCONTACT: 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