PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's attorney general won't appeal a recent ruling that clears a nurse of assisted-suicide charges in her elderly father's death.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane still defends the failed prosecution of Barbara Mancini in the February 2013 death of her 93-year-old father, Joseph Yourshaw.
"The evidence included statements by Mancini that she provided her father with morphine to fulfill his wish. Although these statements were later deemed inadmissible based on a procedural rule, they formed a legitimate basis for this prosecution," Kane said in a statement Monday.
Mancini, 57, was charged with giving a nearly full bottle of morphine to Yourshaw at his Pottsville home, to help him end his life. He died at a hospital four days later, after a hospice nurse called 911 in what Mancini called a violation of her father's "end-of-life wishes."
In a lengthy ruling last week, Schuylkill County Jacqueline L. Russell said prosecutors had failed to prove that a crime occurred. The ruling, issued a year to the day after Yourshaw's death, said the state failed to show that Yourshaw intended to take his own life, or that Mancini helped him do it.
Mancini, who had to leave her nursing job to deal with the case, has called the prosecution "unbearable torment."
Compassion & Choices, a national group that supports aid in dying and other end-of-life decision, supported her defense and raised $20,000 toward her $100,000 in legal bills. Several newspaper editorials also came to Mancini's defense.
"Attorney General Kane's decision to accept this dismissal should serve as an important lesson to prosecutors nationwide: Government officials should not interfere in families' private medical decisions," Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee said in a statement.
Kane, though, said it was her job to enforce the law, and suggested her critics take their concerns about assisted suicide laws to the statehouse.
"If the citizens of the Commonwealth disagree with an existing statute, it is incumbent upon the people to work with the General Assembly to amend the law," she said in the statement.
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