SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA.com) — A terminally-ill single mother is fronting a lawsuit claiming that California law actually allows doctors to help terminally-ill patients end their own lives.
Diagnosed with Stage-4 lung cancer, Christy O'Donnell, 46, is already under the belief that she has only weeks to live. Now she is fighting for control over how she dies.
Inspired by Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old California woman who moved to Oregon to end her own life under that state's 'Death with Dignity' law, O'Donnell, weak from cancer and chemotherapy, found the strength to speak to the state senate.
At the senate hearing, O'Donnell pleaded with California lawmakers to put politics aside, and to pass the law to allow terminally ill patients to medically end their own lives.
"I can't take any more pain," O'Donnell said. "I don't want to suffer anymore, and we don't want to see our loved ones watching us suffer anymore."
O'Donnell's 20-year-old daughter, Bailey, echoes her mother's voice in stating that there's no reason she should have to die painfully.
"There's no medicine that can take away the fear that Bailey and I live with every single day, of not knowing how painful it's going to be when I die," O'Donnell said.
The bill will go to the state appropriations committee, while Christy and Bailey remain aware of the arguments, including that, given the choice, some insurance companies would deny expensive chemotherapy and other treatments for dying patients.
"It's unconstitutional that a patient should be able to deny care, but not request care," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell, a former LAPD officer and lawyer, says she will not break the law. She is instead working with "Compassions and Choices" an LA-based group.
Californians Against Assisted Suicide issued a statement Monday in response to the lawsuit, reading in part, "The question of assisted suicide policy needs to be considered in terms of how it impacts the broader society, particularly those most vulnerable, without economic means or health access, as well as people living with serious disabilities whose options are often diminished."
Nearly a year has gone by since doctors told Christy she had only months to live, and she is still here, fighting to stay alive and fighting for the right to die with dignity, in her own way.
"I would be at home in my bed, with my daughter holding my hand, peaceful and knowing that when I passed, she would have all of the love and support around her."
O'Donnell has set up an education trust fund for her daughter.
To learn more about, or donate to, the education trust fund, click here.
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