Despite protests from an end-of-life planning advocacy group, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office doesn’t appear willing to drop an assisted suicide case.
A Philadelphia nurse, Barbara Mancini, has been charged with aiding in her 93-year-old father’s suicide after she admitted handing him a lethal dose of morphine when he was a hospice patient.
An online petition campaign is asking prosecutors with the attorney general’s office to drop the case.
Compassion and Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee says she thinks Pennsylvania’s law against assisting suicide is constitutional, she just thinks it is being misapplied in the case.
“It would be constitutional to apply this statute to someone who was goading or abetting a person into playing Russian roulette or jumping from a ledge, a person who was distraught and depressed and had disordered thinking and was truly suicidal,” Lee said.
Lee holds that while the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws making assisting suicide a crime, it also allows dying patients to receive medication in quantities that would ease pain, even if the medication would advance the time of death.
A representative from Kane’s office declined comment Thursday, pointing to a gag order from the judge.
Lee said she is trying to raise the visibility of the case.
“The dangers of these kinds of prosecutions, the care with which people need to conduct themselves when they’re at the bedside of dying people, and the need for a public dialogue and more options for people who are dying in misery — I think that’s a good public discussion to have,” she said.