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A 46-Year-Old Single Mom Is Suing For The Right To Die On Her Own Terms

Christy O'Donnell has terminal cancer, and says she wants to spare her daughter, Bailey, the pain of watching her suffer.

Posted on May 20, 2015, at 6:23 p.m. ET

Christy O'Donnell is a 46-year-old attorney and single mother from California. Last year, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and given six months to live.

O'Donnell's doctors have told her she will die in the next few months, and it will likely be a painful death.

“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 said.
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“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 said.

O'Donnell has decided she wants to die on her own terms, rather than from her disease.

She wants to use medical aid in dying, which is when doctors prescribe a patient pills they can take when they feel their illness has become unbearable.However, the practice is illegal in the state of California.
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She wants to use medical aid in dying, which is when doctors prescribe a patient pills they can take when they feel their illness has become unbearable.

However, the practice is illegal in the state of California.

In a heartbreaking video, O'Donnell explains why she feels this choice is best for her and her 20-year-old daughter, Bailey. She says she had an active and full life, working as a civil rights attorney and raising her daughter.

O'Donnell said she is not afraid to die, but that doesn't mean she wants to.

However, O'Donnell says if she must die, she wants to do so on her own terms to spare Bailey the pain of watching her suffer.

"No parent wants to be lying on the floor, knowing that their child is going to come home and find them dead," she said.O'Donnell said her daughter is so terrified at the thought of this scenario that she calls her every day before she comes home to make sure she is still breathing.
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"No parent wants to be lying on the floor, knowing that their child is going to come home and find them dead," she said.

O'Donnell said her daughter is so terrified at the thought of this scenario that she calls her every day before she comes home to make sure she is still breathing.

"It's the most difficult thing ever to see your mom, you know, slowly dying essentially," Bailey said.

So, O'Donnell decided to take legal action. She is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the state of California arguing that the constitution and California law allow for patients to choose medical aid in dying.

O'Donnell is also fighting for California to pass SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, a bill that would allow dying patients to end their lives under certain conditions.

O'Donnell's lawsuit was filed on Friday by Compassion and Choices, an advocacy group that made headlines for its work with Brittany Maynard.

Maynard was a 29-year-old California woman who chronicled her choice to die with dignity last year after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Maynard moved to Oregon, where the practice is legal, in order to do so.
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Maynard was a 29-year-old California woman who chronicled her choice to die with dignity last year after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Maynard moved to Oregon, where the practice is legal, in order to do so.

Maynard's husband, Dan Diaz, who now works with Compassion and Choices, told BuzzFeed News that O'Donnell's fight highlights the need for every state to have a right-to-die law.

He said it was incredibly difficult for his wife to uproot her entire life to Oregon in the middle of dealing with a terminal illness."Nobody should have to go through [that]," he said.Diaz said the advocacy of his wife and O'Donnell are teaching people that "this can affect anybody, this can affect you or me."
thebrittanyfund.org

He said it was incredibly difficult for his wife to uproot her entire life to Oregon in the middle of dealing with a terminal illness.

"Nobody should have to go through [that]," he said.

Diaz said the advocacy of his wife and O'Donnell are teaching people that "this can affect anybody, this can affect you or me."

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Daily News, O'Donnell wrote that she fought for the law her whole life as a lawyer, but now she feels the law is against her.

"I should not be forced to move to another state such as Oregon to die alone or alternatively uproot my daughter from college, her career, and our entire support system as Brittany Maynard and her family did to die peacefully and in comfort," she wrote.
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"I should not be forced to move to another state such as Oregon to die alone or alternatively uproot my daughter from college, her career, and our entire support system as Brittany Maynard and her family did to die peacefully and in comfort," she wrote.

Watch O'Donnell's full video here.

View this video on YouTube

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