As the California legislature moves closer to possibly passing the End of Life Option Act, which is modeled on Oregon's Death With Dignity Act of 1997, the organization Compassion & Choices has released a new video featuring a terminally ill Southern California woman who is joining in a lawsuit to fight for the right to physician-assisted suicide. The case of Christy O’Donnell is especially poignant because she is a Christian, Republican single mother from Santa Clarita with an aggressive form of lung cancer despite never having smoked a cigarette in her life, and being a vegetarian.
O'Donnell is a civil rights attorney who previously was a sergeant in the LAPD, as CBS 5 reports.
Compassion & Choices filed the suit on Friday on behalf of O'Donnell and two other terminally ill Californians, Elizabeth Wallner of Sacramento and Wolf Breiman of Ventura. They subsequently released the video above of O'Donnell, who was given a six-month prognosis a couple of months ago. The video was shot on March 4.
O'Donnell says that while she does not want to die, but after nine months of chemotherapy her cancer has continued to spread from her lungs to her brain, spine, ribs, and liver. She's facing an extremely painful decline in which her lung fills with fluid and she will have to make repeated trips to the hospital to have it drained, until she ultimately dies. Unlike Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old Northern California woman who relocated her family to Oregon in order to die with dignity last November, O'Donnell is not talking about relocating, and will likely end up dying before the California law can take effect. But she says, "While we're waiting for... the legislature to pass it, people like me and my daughter are the casualties of the delay in passing these laws... Someday, when this law passes, my daughter... will know she played some small part in this, and when that law passes she will know that some other little girl will not have to suffer the way she suffered by watching me die."
The California legislation, SB 128, has already passed through several committee hurdles in the State Senate, and it has a deadline of June 5 to pass a vote of the full Senate. Compassion & Choices previously said that if the law fails to pass, they would be seeking a ballot measure.