Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit focused on end of life choices, has started a legal defense fund for a Philadelphia nurse charged with assisted suicide.
Barbara Mancini handed morphine to her 93-year-old father in February at his request. He was in hospice care at the time and had a prescription for the morphine.
When he died four days later, his daughter was arrested. She’s now facing a 10-year prison sentence.
Mancini acted appropriately as her father’s legal decision maker, said Mickey MacIntyre, chief program officer for Compassion & Choices.
“Compassion & Choices established a general legal defense fund in order to help the families like the Mancinis who suffer legal costs, as well as to cover other advocacy costs,” said MacIntyre.
Mancini’s husband, Joseph, is a paramedic for the City of Philadelphia. He said his wife has worked as a nurse for 30 years until she was asked to taken an unpaid leave of absence.
“The financial part, of course, is difficult. Our legal bills are over $100,000 now,” Joseph Mancini said. “Thank goodness we have family that has helped us out, we hope to repay them.”
The fund currently has $15,000 from 250 donors.
“We are very grateful and we hope that that fund that continues in the future for anyone else that may be caught in a similar type of situation that Barbara is in now,” he added.
According to Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet, an organization opposing legalization of assisted suicide, barbiturates are more effective and more commonly used than opiates, such as morphine, for individuals intending to assist with a suicide.
The Mancini case shouldn’t be prosecuted, said Drake, because it doesn’t fit the parameters of assisted suicide and will be hard to prove.
“It helps to perpetuate the illusion that prosecutions like this are common and they’re not, they’re very rare,” said Drake, a research analyst.
Judge Jacqueline Russell has not yet ruled on an Oct. 10 petition to have the charges against Mancini dropped.