The following is a statement by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany on the death of patients’ rights advocate James “JJ” Hanson:
As we mourn the loss of our friend and fellow advocate, James “JJ” Hanson, we choose not to focus on the great sorrow surrounding his death — and there surely is much sorrow for his beloved wife, Kristen, and their children, as well as his extended family and friends. Instead, today, we choose to focus on the great good JJ did during his time on earth, especially during the past few years of his life when his battle with cancer became for him an opportunity to show the strength of his faith and the power of love and determination. He inspired us all and will continue to do so whenever we face struggles in our own lives and remember his example of grace under pressure. We are grateful, too, for his commitment to life, even at its most vulnerable and difficult stages. In his role as president of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, JJ spoke out against the push to legalize physician-assisted suicide in New York State and beyond. He was a force to be reckoned with, both in his battle against cancer and in his defense of all life. We will miss him. We pray for the repose of his soul and for the beautiful family he leaves behind.