Santa Clarita mother with terminal lung cancer sues California for right to die

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A terminally ill Santa Clarita mother is suing the state for her right to die.

Attorney Christy O'Donnell is a single mother who was diagnosed with lung cancer. She believes it should be legal in California for doctors to prescribe medication that allows her to choose when to end her life.

"I don't want my daughter to come in and find me dead," she said. "What it would mean to me is peace. I would know that I could die in my home, in my bed with my daughter holding my hand, and when she walks out the door her entire support system is out there to greet her."

O'Donnell showed Eyewitness News photos of her time as an LAPD sergeant when she investigated hundreds of suicides.

Californian Brittany Maynard brought national attention to the issue when she moved to Oregon where there is a Death with Dignity act in place.

Maynard's family is now pushing legislation in Sacramento to create a similar act in the state. But there's opposition from some religious groups and doctors, who see it as a violation to their Hippocratic Oath.

O'Donnell said even if the law passes, it would not go into effect soon enough to help her. So she is suing the state in the hopes of expediting the process.

She added that no matter what, she will not commit suicide. She hopes one day all Americans will have the choice to legally end their life if they're suffering from a terminal illness.

She also knows that even if she gets an expedited hearing she may not live to see her lawsuit through. But her biggest hope at this point is that she'll see her daughter turn 21 in June.
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