Advocates with the end-of-life choice nonprofit Compassion & Choices are urging Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane to drop what they're calling an "unsupportable assisted suicide case" brought against a Delaware County woman.
Barbara Mancini, 57, a registered nurse, was present Feb. 7 when her terminally ill father, 93-year-old Joe Yourshaw, ingested morphine to relieve his pain, according to a release from the organization.
Yourshaw was at the time in hospice care at his Pottsville home due to multiple serious and painful medical conditions, including end-stage diabetes, extensive cardiovascular and kidney disease, stroke and arthritis.
A visiting hospice nurse arrived shortly after Yourshaw took the medication and called 911.
Yourshaw was revived at the hospital but died four days later after contracting pneumonia.
Authorities allege Mancini, at Yourshaw's request, handed him a partially filled bottle of morphine, and claim the act constitutes "assisted suicide."
Mancini was arrested and charged with a felony county of aiding suicide.
"Barbara Mancini did not commit any crime because Joe Yourshaw was not planning suicide," Mancini's Pottsville-based defense attorney Frederic Fanelli said in a statement.
"He simply exercised his constitutional right to relieve his pain. This case represents a frightening use of police power, gross legal overreach and vindictive prosecution. It puts every Pennsylvanian’s freedom in jeopardy."
Compassion & Choices claims the assisted suicide charge is without merit "because dying patients have a federal constitutional right to as much medicine as they need to relieve their pain, even if it advances the time of death."
"This case is an assault on a loving daughter and a violation of dying patients' constitutional right to adequate pain relief even if it hastens death," Compassion & Choices legal affairs director Kathryn Tucker said in a statement.