Pennsylvania Woman Acquitted of Assisted Suicide Charges

A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed assisted suicide charges against a woman who was arrested after handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine. The case sparked debate over the legality of assisted suicide.

As ElderLawAnswers reported, Barbara Mancini's father, Joe Yourshaw, suffered from diabetes, kidney failure, and heart problems, and was receiving hospice care in his home when Mancini, a nurse, gave him the morphine. Not long after taking the drug, Yourshaw was found unresponsive by a hospice nurse, who called 911. 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 judge ruled that the state did not prove that Mancini committed a crime, instead relying on "speculation and guess" to support its case against her. In the 47-page opinion, the judge explained that prosecutors did not establish how much morphine Yoursaw took and whether Mancini knew he took enough to cause death.

While only a few states -- Oregon, Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont -- permit some type of assisted suicide, prosecutions for assisting a suicide are becoming rare. A recent New York Times article suggests that support for assisted suicide is growing in many states.

For more information about the Mancini verdict, click here.