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A bill (HB 1827), known as “Shawn’s law” that would increase the penalties for some assisted suicides was introduced in Pennsylvania.
It passed the House on May 25, 2020.
Current law regarding assisted suicide
A person may be convicted of criminal homicide for causing another to commit suicide only if he intentionally causes such suicide by force, duress or deception,
A person who intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony of the second degree if his conduct causes the suicide or an attempted suicide, and otherwise of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2505)
In Pennsylvania, more people die annually from suicide than from motor vehicle accidents.
The state’s suicide rate (12.4 for 100,000 people) is more than twice as high as the homicide rate (5.4 for 100,000 people).
Attempts to legalize assisted suicide in Pennsylvania
“Bill to Increase Penalties for Some Assisted Suicides Passes Pennsylvania House”
(National Review — July 14, 2020)
Assisted suicide is illegal in Pennsylvania. Now, after a depressed girl was apparently encouraged to kill herself in an Internet “pro choice” chat room, the state’s House has passed a bill increasing penalties in particular cases for such encouragement.
“‘Murder by proxy’: PA lawmaker wants tougher penalty for those who guide people toward suicide”
(PennLive — September 20, 2019)
The help came from an online chat forum that encourages suicide and walks people through the steps to end their life. In some of her last words, the 25-year-old woman expressed fear and reluctance in her posts about committing this final act. The users convinced her it was the best and only option and wished her well on her journey.
Andrew D. Sumner, MD: “Physician-assisted suicide wrong, dangerous for society”
(Morning Call — April 24, 2015)
Physician-assisted suicide is the easy option for a busy, stressed or frustrated physician. It also gives too much power to the physician. He or she would become judge, jury and assistant executioner. A physician could convince a patient that this is a reasonable step in just the way they describe their diagnosis and prognosis.
“Pitt: New stroke treatment could reduce number of deaths”
(Pittsburgh Tribune Review — February 11, 2015)
Thousands of people might survive a stroke with a clot-killing method explored in part at the University of Pittsburgh….”We call it a game-changer because, up until now, there’s only been one proven, effective therapy for acute stroke,” said Dr. Lawrence Wechsler, a study co-investigator and the neurology chairman at Pitt and UPMC.
“Frank Bruni Hugs Assisted Suicide in NYT”
(National Review — August 11, 2013)
The context of his column involves a case in PA in which Barbara Mancini is being prosecuted for handing her aged father a jar of morphine, apparently knowing he intended to use the drugs to kill himself.
Bruni’s quick and unequivocal embrace of Mancini recalls the enthusiasm of the media in defense of George Delury, when he was arrested for assisting the suicide of his wife, Myrna Lebov.
Later, the truth came out and and it was discovered that Delury had put Lebov out of his misery.
Not only that, but after emotionally bludgeoning Myrna into taking the poison, he put a plastic bag over her head to make sure she died.
“Philadelphia Woman Faces Assisted Suicide Charges in Death of Dad”
(NBC Philadelphia — August 1, 2013)
Barbara Mancini, a Philadelpia resident and nurse, is charged with assisted suicide, a felony in Pennsylvania. Her attorneys say that in February, Mancini handed her 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw, his medicine to end his suffering, not his life.
In his police complaint, the responding officer reported that Mancini told him her father asked for “all his medicine” so he could commit suicide.