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Politics & Government

Schuylkill County Judge Seeks More Information in Assisted Suicide Case

A Schuylkill County judge has asked for legal briefs from both sides of a case involving the prosecution of a woman charged with assisting in her father’s suicide.

Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia is charged with a felony for handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine.

Her father died days later in a hospital.

Lawyers are asking a judge to drop the case, which was referred to the state attorney general’s office after a county district attorney cited a conflict of interest.

Gwen Fitzgerald, with end-of-life planning advocacy group Compassion and Choices, calls the case against Mancini unjust.

"There’s an extraordinary support for her from her family, her community, and legally speaking," Fitzgerald said. "So there’s no reason for this case to go to trial at all and it is our hope that it will be dismissed as soon as possible."

The county judge has asked lawyers to submit briefs before she decides to admit more evidence in the case or rule on the motion to drop it altogether.  

Mancini’s supporters say Pennsylvania’s law prohibiting assisted suicide is being misapplied.

They argue Mancini was trying to help her father lessen his pain, and they say the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it’s legal, even if it hastens death.