SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A professing Christian woman from California who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer has sued state officials in her fight to end her life with a lethal dose of medication out of concerns that her natural death will be slow and painful.
“I’ve been a Christian my whole entire life and I am today,” Christy O’Donnell, 46, says in a video released by the group Compassion and Choices, which assisted Brittany Maynard surrounding her death in 2014. “I believe in God, I pray, and I have an entire support system that prays for me.”
O’Donnell, a single mother of a 21-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year, and while she obtained chemotherapy treatments to conquer the disease, the cancer spread to her brain. Doctors state that they are willing to try an aggressive concoction to help her beat the cancer, but O’Donnell fears what might happen if the treatment is unsuccessful.
“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,” she 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.”
While O’Donnell says that she is afraid of dying in such a manner, she doesn’t really want her life to end and “would do anything to live.” She says that one of the reasons why she is seeking to end her life with a lethal dose of medication, in addition to fear of the pain, is not wanting her daughter to see her suffer.
“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,” she said in a recent interview with Katie 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.”
O’Donell sued the state of California in May in her desire to be granted a prescription that she could take if she decides that her suffering is too great. She has also testified before the state legislature in support of the proposed End of Life Option Act (SB 128), which passed the California Senate last month 23-14. A vote is expected in the Assembly before September.
Christian groups in the state have been strongly opposed to the bill, such as the California Family Council, which stated that the passage of the bill in the Senate demonstrated a defiance of “the concerns of thousands of medical professionals, disability rights advocates, and pro-life citizens.”
A report released earlier this year by First Things noted the recent rise in suicide in European countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide.
“In those countries that have legalized euthanasia (Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg) the numbers seeking the procedure are spiraling ever upward,” it explained. “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.”
“[R]ecent incidents included one woman with an eating disorder, and another claiming to be suffering from tinnitus left behind two teenage children,” it 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.”