Terminally ill single mom Christy O’Donnell doesn’t feel conflicted about being a spokesperson for the right-to-die movement because she is both conservative and a Christian.
“I’ve reconciled my own religious beliefs with this decision,” O’Donnell, 46, tells Yahoo’s Global News Anchor Katie Couric in an interview posting Wednesday on Yahoo News. “My walk with God, it doesn’t conflict with my desire to die peacefully, to take away physical pain.”
“And I don’t believe, at least in my particular religion or others, that this type of pain serves a purpose,” she adds.
O’Donnell, a former LAPD sergeant and trial attorney, has stage IV lung cancer that has spread to her brain, liver, left rib and L1 vertebrae.
She is currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy and on Tuesday found out the treatment is working to control the spread of her cancer, she says.
Her liver tumor shrank while the others stayed the same but the chemo is causing neuropathy in her feet and swelling in her legs, so her doctor told her he can only continue to give the chemo to her for “a little while,” she says.
“I probably should have asked him what ‘a little’ meant but I honestly don’t want to know,” she tells PEOPLE.
“It’s a mixed bag,” she says. “I was elated [at first], then my bubble burst a little.”
Once she stops this round of chemo, she has no other treatment options.
Because she’s been told she will die a slow, painful death by drowning in her own lung fluids, she wants to be able to end her own life legally when her suffering becomes too great.
She lives in Valencia, California, and does not want to move to Oregon, where “Death with Dignity” is legal, because she does not want to uproot her daughter, Bailey Donorovich, 21, who is a college student and works full time.
A hearing on her lawsuit is set for July 24 in San Diego.
Though the California Medical Association dropped its opposition to the legislation, it still faces stiff opposition from Californians Against Assisted Suicide, a coalition of disability rights, civil rights and religious groups.
O’Donnell, however, feels this is an intensely personal decision.
“Every person in the U.S. should have an absolute right to follow whatever religious and moral ethical beliefs are right for them,” she tells Couric. “Our legislators should listen to their constituency instead of being swayed by only a few heads of religious groups.”
Watch a clip of Couric’s conversation with O’Donnell above and check out the full interview Wednesday on Yahoo News.