When an emergency medical team resuscitated Joseph Yourshaw in February 2013, the first thing he said was “Don’t let them hurt Barbara.”
His daughter Barbara Mancini, an emergency room nurse, had earlier that dayhanded morphine to her terminally ill, 93-year old father when he’d requested it. A hospice nurse stopped by the house soon after the dose and immediately – against Yourshaw’s wishes – dialed 911. Yourshaw went to the emergency room. Mancini was brought to the police station. Aiding someone to end his or her own life was and is illegal in Pennsylvania, as it is in Connecticut.
Jody Wynn Rodiger comes to the aid-in-dying movement as a lay person trained to minister to the dying. “I’ve watched people at the end of their lives,” said Rodiger. That includes 30 years ago, when she was living and ministering in New York City. “I lost a lot of friends to AIDS,” she said. “Medical science kept pushing drugs, and they were begging to go.”
Like 65 percent of the state’s residents, Rodiger, who is a mission collaboration administrator at the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, would like to see a comprehensive aid-in-dying law, also known by proponents as “death with dignity” and – by its opponents — “assisted suicide.”
And though there are deep-pocketed opponents, this could be Connecticut’s year to join the nation’s five other states that allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients to end their own lives.