On May 15, California resident Christy O’Donnell filed a lawsuit requesting that the courts allow a doctor to prescribe her life-ending drugs so that she can die on her own terms.
In 2014, O’Donnell found out that she had terminal lung adenocarcinoma that had spread to her brain. As LifeNews previously reported, she said was “inspired” by Brittany Maynard and wanted to end her life by committing suicide. However, since assisted suicide is illegal in California she’s trying to override state law and attain the deadly medication through the courts.
O’Donnell told People magazine about the lawsuit. She said, “I am dying within the next months, and I am going to die painfully. I am asking the courts for intervention to issue an order so that a doctor can legally prescribe a medication so that I don’t have to die painfully, and so that every moment before I die, I don’t have to spend afraid and worried about the painful manner in which I’m going to die.”
Of course the pro-euthanasia group Compassion and Choices is supporting O’Donnell’s decision to sue and recently released a video about her desire to commit suicide. Kevin Diaz, the organizations national director of legal advocacy, said, “Christy is a profile in courage for many other dying people who face unbearable suffering in their final days that even the best hospice and palliative care cannot relieve.”
He added, “As Brittany recognized, these people desperately need the option of medical aid in dying so they can die painlessly, peacefully in their sleep – and they need it now – before it’s too late.”
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Now O’Donnell is no longer considered stable and her chemotherapy treatments are failing to help her. In the video with Compassion and Choices, O’Donnell says she’s a Christian but doesn’t want to suffer a painful death. She said, “The opponents argue that pain medication these days should be able to take care of everything. But each person reacts differently to pain medication, and in my case, I get violently ill. I had morphine for the first time in the hospital on April 21st. And it did not react well with my body, and I got violently sick. I’m tried Norco, and my body cannot handle Norco. I’ve tried Oxycodone and my body cannot handle Oxycodone.”
She added, “I’m currently taking Tramadol, which is one of the only drugs that my body’s been able to tolerate, but that doesn’t take away all of the pain. I live with about a 4 or 5 pain level. My doctors can give me enough pain medication to knock me out so that I’m fairly unconscious and I don’t feel most of my pain. But if I can’t be cognitive, I cannot communicate with my daughter. I cannot communicate with my loved ones and my friends. That’s not living.”
Although O’Donnell supports the current assisted suicide legislation in the California Legislature, she says she doesn’t have time to wait for it to pass.
She said, “I can’t wait. My daughter can’t wait. I owe this to myself, and I owe this to my daughter. She’s either going to come home and she’s going to have to discover my body, or she’s going to have to watch me die painfully. I want to make crystal-clear that my decision to file this lawsuit is not because I do not have faith in our Legislature. But the legislative process is a very long process. It’s highly unlikely that the current pending legislation will come to a conclusion at any time in my lifetime.”
This story, just like Brittney Maynard’s, is heartbreaking but assisted suicide is not the solution for terminal illness. Under this type of legislation, those with mental illness and depression can qualify for lethal prescriptions, as could those who could live indefinitely with basic treatments. For example, under Oregon’s assisted suicide provision, the most recent official state report shows in the footnotes that a diabetic, persons with respiratory diseases, a person with viral hepatitis, and persons with HIV all obtained lethal prescriptions. These people are a far cry from those we envision as “terminally ill.”
Additionally, assisted suicide preys on the disabled, the elderly and people dealing with advanced illnesses. Ann Cupolo Freeman, a board member of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, explained some of the effects assisted suicide legislation could have on the disabled community. She said, “No assisted-suicide ‘safeguard’ can ever protect against coercion. In this era of managed care, will those living with a disability and the seriously ill be more likely offered lethal prescriptions in place of medical treatment? A prescription for 100 Seconal tablets costs far less than most medical treatments, especially considering the cost of long-term care for someone living with a disability.”