Woman With Deadly Disease Sues CA So She Can Commit Suicide

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Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, left, discusses the assisted suicide measure he and Assemblywoman Patti Berg, D-Eureka,  unseen, introduced at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. The bill is the third attempt by lawmakers to make California the second state in the country where doctors could give dying patients life-ending drugs. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, left, discusses the assisted suicide measure he and Assemblywoman Patti Berg, D-Eureka, unseen, introduced at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. The bill is the third attempt by lawmakers to make California the second state in the country where doctors could give dying patients life-ending drugs. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Nigel Boys

A Sacramento, California single mother who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year, which later spread to her brain, does not wish to go through the lingering, painful death she is expecting, so she is campaigning for the right to end her own life.

Forty-six-year-old Christy O’Donnell, who has a 21-year-old daughter, claims to have been a Christian her entire life and remains so today, even though she wants to commit suicide, which is contrary to what many believe is biblical teachings. She is being helped by the group Compassion and Choices, who assisted Brittany Maynard last year in deciding how and when she would die. The group released a video of O’Donnell telling her tearful story on YouTube.

Since “physician-assisted suicide” has not been legalized in California, O’Donnell is suing state officials for the right to end her own life with a lethal dose of drugs which will be prescribed by doctors.

“I’ve been a Christian my whole entire life and I am today,” said O’Donnell. “I believe in God, I pray, and I have an entire support system that prays for me.”

“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,” O’Donnell states in the video. “I spend an inordinate amount of time being afraid of the pain that I’m going to endure. All of that time that my mind spends thinking about that, I am not living.”

One of her biggest fears about dying a slow, painful death, is that it will leave her daughter traumatized, O’Donnell said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric.

“My biggest fear about my last moments on earth are that … I’m going to be in so much physical pain that it’s going to make my passing traumatic for me and traumatic for my daughter,” O’Donnell told Couric. “And that the whole rest of her life, her last moments of looking at me, touching me, and hearing my voice are going to be a horrible, terrible memory that she’s going to have to carry, rather than it being a loving memory of me.”

The End of Life Option Act (SB 128) passed through the California Senate last month with a vote of 23 to 14, and O’Donnell testified on its behalf. It is expected to go to a vote in the Assembly sometime before September, but O’Donnell wants to be granted the prescription now in case her suffering becomes too unbearable.

Various Christian groups, including the Sacramento-based California Family Council (CFC), have strongly opposed the passage of the bill. The organization stated that “the concerns of thousands of medical professionals, disability rights advocates and pro-life citizens” were ignored when the bill passed through the Senate.

“In those countries that have legalized euthanasia (Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg) the numbers seeking the procedure are spiraling ever upward,” a report from First Things noted about the dangers passing a suicide-assisted bill. “In 2013 there were 1,087 cases of euthanasia in Belgium, up 27 percent on the figures for 2012, while 2012 saw a 25 percent increase on the numbers for 2011. In Holland, it has been estimated that 12.3 percent of all deaths are now via euthanasia.”

“Recent incidents included one woman with an eating disorder, and another claiming to be suffering from tinnitus left behind two teenage children,” the report published by The Institute of Religion and Public Life continued. “Many living in countries where it is outlawed are now taking part in the macabre phenomenon known as ‘suicide tourism.’ So in Switzerland—where assisted suicide is permitted—the number of cases rose 700 percent within roughly a decade, having been boosted by foreigners making the journey to end their lives.”

O’Donnell, who worked as an attorney in Los Angeles, filed a lawsuit against the state in May because her chemotherapy treatments have allegedly lost their effectiveness and she is only expected to live a few more months. Her suit will be heard later this month after a judge ordered an expedited review, according to Yahoo News.

“If my liver fails, my stomach will become huge, painful, and distended,” O’Donnell told Couric. “And with the bone tumors, there’s not really any medication they can give me that’s going to take away the pain.”

The proposed law would require two doctors to agree that a patient has less than six months to live and alternative treatment options must have been discussed between patient and doctor, CBS Los Angeles reports. Before a lethal prescription can be issued, the patient must have submitted one written request and two oral requests to the doctor.

While the proposed law has garnered much support, others believe that if it is passed, some patients will be vulnerable under the act.

“We know that as soon as this option is introduced, it immediately becomes the most efficient, expedient, and least expensive end-of-life option,” Aaron Kheriaty told CBS Los Angeles. “And we know that the medical system currently is under tremendous pressure to lower costs.”

“This is, I think, a deadly mix,” the UC Irvine Medical Ethics Program Director continued. “This is a mix that is going to put especially individuals that don’t have access to the best medical care or insurance, this is going to put them in very vulnerable positions.”

 

 

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