NPR Spins Euthanasia as 'Medical Care That May Hasten Death'

NPR's Richard Knox played up a Pennsylvania judge's dismissal of a homicide case involving admitted euthanasia as "a sign that attitudes about end-of-life decisions are changing, whatever most statutes say," in a Wednesday item for the public radio network's health news blog. Knox euphemistically described the contoversial practice, as he asserted that "the [judge's] decision is the latest in a series of recent developments signaling a reluctance of courts and state legislatures to criminalize medical care that may hasten death."

The correspondent also slanted towards pro-euthanasia groups by including two quotes from a representative of an "advocacy group," while providing none from pro-life opponents.

Knox led his article, "Judge Dismisses Assisted Suicide Case Against Pennsylvania Nurse," by outling how "a Pennsylvania county judge has thrown out an assisted suicide case against a 58-year-old nurse named Barbara Mancini, who was accused of homicide last year for allegedly handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine." He continued with his slanted "medical care that may hasten death" description of euthanasia, and cited unnamed "legal experts [who] say Mancini's prosecution for allegedly assisting a suicide isn't unique, but such cases are increasingly rare."

Screen Cap of Richard Knox, NPR Correspondent; Taken From YouTube.com Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkeeZC9bxRsThe NPR science journalist then made his claim that the rarity of assisted suicide prosecutions is "a sign that attitudes about end-of-life decisions are changing, whatever most statutes say," and gave a short summary of the circumstances of the case, where included his quotations from the pro-euthanasia activist:

Pennsylvania filed charges against Mancini last summer based on circumstances surrounding her father's death in February 2013. Joseph Yourshaw, the father, was a home hospice patient in failing health. When a hospice nurse checked on him and found him unresponsive, the hospice called 911 and had an ambulance take him to the hospital against the wishes of his family. He was revived, then died four days later. Mancini was later charged with assisting his suicide by providing him with a lethal dose of morphine.

"This case demonstrates that the government has no business interfering in families' end-of-life decisions," Mickey MacIntyre of the advocacy group Compassion and Choices said in a statement. "This prosecution could have chilled end-of-life decisions and pain care for millions of future terminally ill patients who simply want to die at home, peacefully and with dignity."

In a scathing 47-page opinion, Judge Jacqueline Russell wrote that Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane didn't establish that Mancini had committed a crime — that she intended to help her ailing father commit suicide rather than simply to alleviate his pain.


Several paragraphs later, Knox noted that "according to a hospice nurse and a police officer who talked to Mancini on Feb. 7, 2013, she [Mancini] said she had given him an entire vial of morphine to end his life. He had previously told family members and hospice workers that he wished to die. Mancini doesn't deny giving him the morphine bottle, but she denied that she intended to help him commit suicide and said she wanted only to relieve his pain."

The correspondent spent much of the rest of his article excerpting Judge Russell's "scathing" decision. He did include a summary of the prosecutor's early-on take about the case: "Anthony Forray, a deputy attorney general who prosecuted the case, characterized the evidence against Mancini in a pretrial hearing as 'overwhelming." He contended that she pressured hospice personnel to prescribe the morphine and handed him a full bottle with a 40-day supply, knowing that it would kill him if he took it."

However, Knox concluded by spotlighting how "a spokesman for Attorney General Kane said Tuesday afternoon that his office had not reviewed Russell's opinion and wanted to review it before making a comment. Compassion and Choices, which has supported Mancini and publicized the case nationally, is urging Kane not to appeal its dismissal."

NPR has a history of inserting its liberal slant into its coverage of social issues. Back in November 2013, correspondent Michele Kelemen boosted the foreign agenda of left-wing homosexual activists on All Things Considered by hyping the collaboration between visiting members of the "Rakurs" LGBT group from Russian and their American supporters. Kelemen hyped the testimony of one Rakurs member who lamented how the Russian city of Arkhangelsk has supposedly turned from a place "open to different views and trends" to a "stronghold of traditional values and religious beliefs in the Russian north."

Four months earlier, NPR journalist Wade Goodwyn ballyhooed Wendy Davis' pro-abortion filibuster in the Texas State Senate as a "tiny ray of hope" for Democrats in the Lone Star State. Goodwyn asserted that Davis' delaying tactic against a pro-life bill was "as good a moment as Texas Democrats have had in 20 years."

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center