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Hero Who Fought Assisted Suicide Dies Peacefully

A 36 year-old Marine veteran who was diagnosed with terminal cancer three years ago and became a crusader against assisted suicide, died peacefully in the arms of his family on December 30.

The Stream is reporting on the death of J. J. Hanson who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014 and told he had only about four months to live. He was fighting the same cancer, glioblastoma, that led Brittany Maynard to take her life in a high-profile case in California the same year.

But Hanson refused to go that route. Even though he would have easily met the criteria to access assisted suicide if he lived in a state like Oregon or California, he believed that “Every day is a gift and you can’t ever let that go . . .”

Hanson used the gift of his life to fight for the lives of others, especially the poor, who could be pressured into assisted suicide because it was less costly than expensive cancer treatments. While serving as president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, he fought for legislation opposing the legalization of assisted suicide on the grounds that it puts everyone at risk, not just the terminally ill.

“When assisted suicide becomes accepted public policy it threatens the lives of everyone, especially the poor, elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and terminally ill,” Hanson said. “Why? Well, for starters, abuse is unavoidable and doctors are fallible. Assisted suicide policy also injects government insurers and private insurance companies with financial incentives into every single person’s end of life decisions.”

He also worked closely with the New York State Catholic Conference and the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide to educate others about the dangers of assisted suicide.

“Initially, JJ’s doctors offered him no hope, but he and Kristen had hope in abundance,” said Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, who became close to the Hanson family. “He outlived that death sentence by more than three years, giving hope and inspiration to thousands of people during that time.

“He reached out to doctors, veterans groups and other organizations, persuaded lawmakers and journalists, raised funds for cancer research, traveled to Albany, Washington, D.C., and states all across the country, and took every opportunity to promote compassionate life-affirming care for persons facing disease and disability. And he did that while facing tremendous health hurdles, undergoing surgeries and treatments, and caring for his family.”

Hanson credited the support of his family for keeping him from succumbing to despair in dark moments.

Even though he was told he would die in 2014, “Here I am three years later, enjoying the arrival of our second son and living life to the fullest,” he said in October of 2017.

Hanson passed away peacefully on December 30. He is survived by his wife Kristen and two sons, James and Lucas.

“ . . . JJ’s death is a loving example of an authentic ‘death with dignity’,” Gallagher said. “We are so grateful to Kristen and the boys for sharing JJ with us these last three years and enabling him to touch so many lives. We pray for their comfort and solace in this very difficult time.”

A page has been set up to assist Kristen and the boys in the difficult years to come. Click here for more information on how you can help.

Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.

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