Single Mother Fights For Right To Die, Files Lawsuit Against California

Single Mother Fights For Right To Die, Files Lawsuit Against California
California Minimal Sunrise Don McCullough / Flickr CC BY 2.0

A single mother from Valencia suffering from terminal cancer is fighting for right to end her life so she can die with dignity and not spend the rest of her days in anticipation of death.


Christy O’Donnell, a former Los Angeles Police Department detective and practicing lawyer, is following in the footsteps of Brittany Maynard, who is credited for bringing death-with-dignity laws to public attention after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Maynard subsequently moved from California to Oregon to end her life by consuming a prescribed medication.

In a video by O’Donnell, posted on YouTube by Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit organization, she said, “The most likely way that I’m going to die with the lung cancer is that my left lung will fill with fluid, I’ll start drowning in my own fluid.

“If I get to a hospital, they’ll very painfully put a tube in. They’ll drain the fluid from my lung, only to patch me up, send me home and wait until the next time my lung fills up with fluid. And they’ll continue to repeat that process and drowning painfully until I die.”

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Maynard worked with Compassion and Choices before her death.

According to KABC, O’Donnell said that the right-to-die bill finding ground in the California legislature will probably not be passed while she’s alive. At present, the bill is in the California Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate will vote on the bill on June 5, following which the assembly will have time till September, as reported by NBC Southern California.

O’Donnell joined a group of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer protesting for the right to die to sue California officials.

In a statement, Californians Against Assisted Suicide spokeswoman Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Educational and Defense Fund, said, “The question of assisted suicide policy needs to be considered in terms of how it impacts the broader society, particularly the most vulnerable, without economic means or health access, as well as people living with serious disabilities whose options are often diminished.

“These lawsuits and legislation like California Senate Bill 128 are not simply exercises in autonomy for such individuals. Hopefully our court system and legislators take into account the broader implications, particularly in a state as diverse as California. This latest effort does not change in the least the aggressive opposition from progressives like myself and a diverse range of organizations against assisted suicide.”

According to the lawsuit, O’Donnell was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer, and has only six months to live. The cancerous cells in her body have spread to her brain, liver, rib and spine. Her morphine intolerance makes it more difficult for her to endure the pain.

O’Donnell said that she desires to at least live till her daughter’s 21st birthday next month.

“In my last breath with her holding my hand, I want to know that (my daughter) is going to walk out of that room and have her whole family there. That’s what I want,” O’Donnell said.

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