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UPDATE: Philly nurse speaks out on assisted suicide case

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 12, 2014 11:24 AM
Stethoscope doctor

(Philadelphia) -- A Philadelphia nurse accused of helping her 93-year-old terminally ill father kill himself by handing him a bottle of morphine says  she was unjustly prosecuted, and her supporters begged Pennsylvania's attorney general to refrain from appealing a judge's decision dismissing the case. 

Speaking publicly for the first time since being charged with felony assisted suicide, Barbara Mancini says her ordeal was an ``unbearable torment.''

``I'm relieved and I'm happy and that's something I haven't felt for over a year,'' says Mancini, who denounced the case as an ``unjust prosecution.''

Mancini, 57, was charged last summer with giving a nearly full bottle of morphine to her father, Joseph Yourshaw, at his Pottsville home in February 2013 for the purpose of helping him end his life. Yourshaw died at a hospital four days later after a hospice nurse called 911 in what Mancini said was a violation of her father's ``end-of-life wishes.''

In a 47-page opinion issued yesterday, the one-year anniversary of Yourshaw's death, Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline L. Russell said state prosecutors had failed to prove a crime occurred and based its case against Mancini on speculation and guesswork.

The judge said prosecutors had neither established that Yourshaw intended to take his own life, nor that Mancini helped him do it.

Mancini declined to comment today when asked if she wanted to address first-term state Attorney General Kathleen Kane directly.

But her supporters from Compassion & Choices, a group that supports aid in dying and other end-of-life decisions and raised $20,000 to help defray Mancini's $100,000 legal bill, were more than willing to take on the first-term Democrat.

Mancini's prosecution ``did more than torment and torture one family,'' said Compassion & Choices spokeswoman Gwen Fitzgerald, who joined Mancini at a news conference inside her Philadelphia home. `The arrest of a family caregiver providing pain medication to a dying loved one has a chilling effect for families across the country.''

Kane ``should back off and back out of families' medical decisions. You are not needed there,'' Fitzgerald said. She said an appeal of the judge's ruling would be ``a further abuse of power.''

Kane's office says it was still analyzing the ruling and declined further comment after the news conference.

Prosecutors have 30 days to appeal.

Mancini was let go from her job as an emergency-room nurse at Lankenau Medical Center, where she'd worked for more than 20 years, after her six-month unpaid leave expired last month. She said she plans to reapply for her old job ``at some point.''

``I can't do it right now,'' she says ``We need to decompress a little bit.''

    

This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. on 2/12/14

(Philadelphia) -- A Philadelphia nurse accused of handing her 93-year-old terminally ill father a bottle of morphine is breaking her silence after a judge dismissed an assisted suicide charge against her.

Barbara Mancini plans to discuss her yearlong ordeal now that a Schuylkill County judge dismissed the felony charge.

Mancini will be joined today by Compassion & Choices, a group that supports aid in dying and other end-of-life decisions. The group is urging Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to file an appeal.

A Kane spokesman says no decision has been made.

Mancini was charged with giving a nearly full bottle of morphine to her father, Joseph Yourshaw, at for the purpose of helping him end his life in Pottsville. Yourshaw died at a hospital four days later after a hospice nurse called 911.

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