A Life or Death Decision: Two Women Share their Thoughts on the Right to Die

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SACRAMENTO-

She became the face of an agonizing battle over the decision to die. She was young and vibrant.

Brittany Maynard ended her life following a long battle with cancer, triggering an emotional debate.

FOX40 talked to two women, both faced with the prospect of dying and both fighting over how to end their lives.

They've stared death in the face and survived. But that's where the similarities end.

"I want to go out on in my own terms," Christie White said. “The way I want to go."

Laurie Hoirup has a different perspective: “Life is a blessing and it's not up to us when it should end."

Just a few years ago, Christie was on the brink of death. In 2007, she was diagnosed with a rare leukemia.

"This is not how I  envision my end of days:  being in the hospital, practically in isolation," she said.

Christie endured radiation, chemotherapy and lengthy stays in the hospital. Then, three years ago, she received a miracle in the form of a bone marrow transplant. With her leukemia in remission, Christie got a second chance.

But she knows there likely won't be a third. And if the cancer returns:

"Give me the opportunity to say OK, this is it for me,” Christie said. “I want to take my end of life medications. "

Christie, along with a group of cancer patients, is suing the state for the right to die.  The lawsuit proposes when an illness is terminal, doctors who help patients end their lives be protected from prosecution.

"I really want to be able to be at home, here in my own world, with my family, with my friends, with my cat. And choose," Christie said.

Currently, three states have right-to-die laws.

Laurie wants to make sure California doesn't become one of them.

“The Pandora's box piece is in terms of when does it stop and will it stop?” she says.

Laurie has been told again and again she wouldn't live long because of spinal muscular atrophy.

She's a quadriplegic with the 20 percent breathing capacity of a healthy person.

“I have to be gotten up, bathed, dressed, pottied, fed, groomed, driven anywhere I need to go,” Laurie said.

But those challenges have enriched her life.

She is married with two children, three grandkids and one on the way. She's also an author and sharing her story of survival.

"None of that would exist if either I or my mother had decided to end my life because of my diagnosis,” she said.

Laurie worries the right-to-die proposal would hurt the people it's intended to help.

“I see there being a great potential for elder abuse. I see great potential for abuse against disabled population that may not have a voice,” she said.

These are two women who've taken terminal illness head on, facing what could be an even bigger battle: a life and death decision.

"Who cares? And who has the right to tell me I can't make that choice for myself?" Christie said.

"For those of us that have lived with this for years and years and years. I resent that. I resent that someone could look at that way of life as not worth living,” Laurie said.

Right now, there's no timeline for the lawsuit filed by Christie White and other cancer patients.

Meantime, since Brittany Maynard's death, four states have introduced right-to-die legislation.

Maynard's family spoke at the state capitol to support a similar bill here.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.