Pennsylvania Nurse Charged With Assisting in Father's Suicide

In a case being closely watched by baby boomers throughout the country caring for aging parents, a Pennsylvania nurse has been charged with helping her 93-year-old father commit suicide. Barbara Mancini allegedly handed her father a vial of morphine, which he drank in its entirety, causing him to fall into a coma.

Mancini's father, Joe Yourshaw, suffered from diabetes, kidney failure, and heart problems, and was receiving hospice care in his home. Mancini's attorney claims that Mancini handed Yourshaw the morphine in order to ease his pain, not to end his life. Not long after taking the morphine, Yourshaw was found unresponsive by a hospice nurse, who called 911. The police allege Mancini made self-incriminating statements. Even though Yourshaw had a do-not-resuscitate order, he was taken to the hospital, where he was awakened but died four days later.

The Pennsylvania attorney general has charged Mancini with assisted suicide. Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who assists in a suicide is guilty of a felony in the second degree, which can carry of sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The case has sparked debate over the legality of assisted suicide. Only a few states -- Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont -- permit some type of assisted suicide. Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy group, has petitioned the attorney general to have the charges dropped, arguing that it is wrong to use the law to punish pain relief.

For more information about the case from CNN, click here.

For a New York Daily News article, click here.

For the ElderLawAnswers article, “Is Assisted Suicide Legal?”, click here.