Posted: February 14, 2014

WHEN Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined to defend the state's anti-gay marriage statute last year, it seemed she could be the political messiah who'd drag Pennsylvania into the realm of progress - especially if she ran, as anticipated, for governor. That impression was shattered the following month, when she inexplicably prosecuted a dutiful, loving daughter for allegedly assisting her father's suicide.

Kane lost the case this week against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini, which was thrown out by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell. The 47-page decision chastised Kane's attempt to build a prosecution on "little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons - speculation, guess and defendant's alleged incriminating statements."

The case was not only weak and unsubstantiated, then, but also C. A front-page story in Sunday's New York Times documented the growing public support for laws that allow terminally ill individuals to end their lives when their suffering becomes unbearable. Five states have adopted such laws and other states have them under consideration, according to Compassion & Choices, a national organization that advocates for death with dignity.

So much for Kane's potential as a visionary for our antediluvian state.

The damage to Kane, of course, is of no concern compared to the horrendous damage she inflicted upon Mancini, accused of killing her father, Joe Yourshaw, 93, whom she'd been caring for in his Pottsville home during the excruciating pain and suffering of his terminal illness.

The charges derived from a bedside exchange between them, when Mancini handed her father a bottle of morphine, at his request. He lapsed into unconsciousness, was brought to the hospital and revived despite his do-not-resuscitate order, and died there four days later. Kane pressed charges based on the allegation that Mancini was helping him fulfill his wish to die, rather than helping him alleviate his pain.

Thus began a year of torture for Mancini and her family. She was suspended from and eventually lost her job as an ER nurse at Lankenau Hospital, forcing her husband to work long, extra hours.

The experience of prosecution for a devoted daughter whose life and career were devoted to caring for others was unthinkable.

Kane's office declined to comment after the ruling and could potentially decide to appeal Russell's decision - which Mancini publically pleaded for the office not to do.

We join that plea wholeheartedly. Enough taxpayers' money has already been spent on a cruel, pointless - and groundless - case.

End-of-life decisions shouldn't be haunted by the specter of prosecution. Loving families shouldn't have to make room for the state at the bedside of their dying relatives. Kane should return to "Protecting Pennsylvanians" - the motto of her website - rather than persecuting harmless individuals.

May Joseph Yourshaw finally rest in peace. May Barbara Mancini and her family regain their lives. And may Pennsylvania's AG office return its focus to rescuing our state from its primeval ways.

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