Citing support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Act into law Monday, giving a Valencia woman and others like her the legal choice to end their lives with a doctor’s assistance.
“When I first heard, honestly, I was speechless and just kept saying ‘Wow,’” said Christy O’Donnell, a major advocate for the legisaltion and lead plaintiff in a related lawsuit. “I knew with 100 percent certainty this law was going to pass, but I wasn’t certain that it was going to pass in my lifetime.”
O’Donnell is a single-mom, civil rights attorney and former LAPD sergeant who has brain, liver, lung, rib and spine cancer. She’s morphine intolerant. She was going to die painfully from her illness, before the bill was made law.
Christy O’Donnell (left) with her daughter.
AB2x15 allows mentally-capable, terminally-ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for aid-in-dying drugs to painlessly and peacefully hasten their death, according to a news release.
Brown said his signing message:
ABx2-15 is not an ordinary bill because it deals with life and death. The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering.
I have carefully read the thoughtful opposition materials presented by a number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability rights. I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful.
I have also read the letters of those who support the bill, including heartfelt pleas from Brittany Maynard’s family and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In addition, I have discussed this matter with a Catholic Bishop, two of my own doctors and former classmates and friends who take varied, contradictory and nuanced positions.
In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.
I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.
In a press release from the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, O’Donnel said: “I’m overjoyed for all the terminally ill people in California, who can now relax knowing they finally have the choice of aid in dying as one of their end-of-life options. No more worrying that they will suffer great physical and emotional pain at the end of their life when they have already suffered painfully for so long as a result of their terminal illnesses,” . “Governor Brown, you have made me a proud Californian today knowing I live in a state where our governor acts in accordance with what his people need, want, and deserve. In this case, a peaceful and pain free death with their family.”