Remember Brittany Maynard? The twenty-nine year old woman who moved from California to Oregon last year to utilize their physician assisted suicide law. She ended her own life at age 29 and as a result, California went on to legalize the practice in the state.

A similar story is now being played out in New York and New Jersey—but with a real hero. J.J. Hanson, a thirty-four year old ex-Marine, received the same diagnosis as Maynard in May 2014. He’s now fighting to ensure that physician assisted suicide remains illegal in New York.

When he was first diagnosed doctors gave him only a few months to live. Over a year later, his cancer is in remission.

He reflects:

What if I just said I had enough and ended it? I would be ok the next day because I would be gone I wouldn’t feel the pain, I wouldn’t feel the emotion. They do. My wife would feel it for the rest of her life. My son would not have one more day to spend with me. Every single part of my day, I spend towards improving my ability to live.

J.J.’s story is not dissimilar to many cancer patients who have received terminal diagnoses–only for doctors to later find a cure or for their lives to be extended far longer than once predicted. The practice of physician assisted suicide serves to discourage doctors and patients alike from having hope. Unlike Brittany Maynard, J.J.’s story is one that is motivated by a legacy of concern for others to have a hope and future of proper care and treatment. His motivation is outward focused and serves as the true face of this debate. Bravo!


Author Profile

Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director