Friday, August 2, 2013

Assisted Suicide case in Pennsylvania (Mancini case)

Barbara Mancini has been ordered to stand trial for the charge of aiding or assisting the suicide of her father, Joseph Yourshaw (93) in Pottsville Pennsylvania.

The facts of the case are not well known and the judge placed a gag order on the case, but a local newspaper stated the facts in the following manner.
Just six months ago, a 93-year-old Yourshaw was terminally ill and in at-home hospice at his West Market Street, Pottsville home. A hospice nurse testified at the hearing that upon arriving at the home February 7th, she called 911 after learning Mr. Yourshaw had swallowed a bottle of morphine. He died four days later. Pottsville Police Captain Steve Durkin said when he arrived at the home the day of the overdose he was met by Barbara Mancini and that she told him that she gave her father the morphine because he wanted to die. He also testified that Mancini didn't want her father going to the hospital. ... 
District court judge James Reiley denied a defense request to dismiss the case. The defense wanted the charge thrown out based on two previous supreme court rulings. Ms. Mancini, who is a registered nurse, remains free on $100,000 bail. Her trial date has not yet been set.
According to an article in the Philadelphia Enquirer:
On Feb. 7, Pottsville Police Capt. Steve Durkin went to the Yourshaws' home in response to a 911 call from the hospice nurse. 
The nurse "told me that her client had taken an overdose of his morphine with the intent to commit suicide," Durkin wrote in his report. 
The nurse said Mancini, who also is a nurse, gave her father the morphine "at his request so that he could end his own suffering," Durkin wrote. 
When an ambulance arrived, Mancini told paramedics that her father was dying and did not want further treatment, but the police captain overruled her. 
"I advised defendant that she no longer had any say in the matter and that her father was going to the hospital for treatment," Durkin's report says. 
Yourshaw was revived at the hospital, only to die there four days later after doctors gave him more morphine for his pain, according to Mancini's lawyers.
The Mancini case brings up some very interesting questions concerning the issue of assisted suicide. 

Some media outlets are attacking the prosecutor in this case and are making inferences that this case will pour cold water on palliative care professionals who are working to kill the pain and not the patient. 

I think that this case is too early to judge. 
If Barbara Mancini intentionally assisted her father's suicide attempt, then she broke the law. 
If she only helped to control her father's painful symptoms, then she should be acquitted.
These issues will be better understood when more information about the case is available.

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