I’ll be honest. This is one of the most difficult articles I’ve ever had to write for Family Policy Alliance®. But it’s also one of the most important.
Three years ago, we introduced you to Elizabeth, a wife and mother of two from Minnesota. I first learned about Elizabeth’s story when she bravely testified against an assisted suicide bill in her state. As I got to know Elizabeth and meet her beautiful family, she agreed to share her story with us so that people around the country could learn what it’s like to advocate for your own life.
Elizabeth shared with me that she was an adventurer at heart, and her marriage began with traveling, exploring, skiing, and more. But what she certainly never expected out of life was a brain cancer diagnosis—shortly after her first child, a daughter, was born.
The doctors gave her three to five years to live, and so Elizabeth prayed and asked for the doctors’ help to see her daughter off to her first day of kindergarten.
When I met Elizabeth, her daughter was seven years old. Elizabeth had already outlived her prognosis and even given birth to another child, a son.
Her children, though young, were already full of their parents’ adventurous and fiery spirits. And perhaps what was most remarkable about meeting Elizabeth was her deep understanding about life, suffering, and helping others.
She shared with me the most beautiful words describing every person created in God’s image—worth fighting for and worth advocating for. She said we are all “unique and unrepeatable people.”
And Elizabeth certainly was.
This past weekend, Elizabeth went home to her Savior, with this verse as a final reminder to all of her faithfulness, joy, and the One in whom she placed her hope and trust:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Watch Elizabeth tell us her story 3 years ago:
As the Family Policy Alliance team considered how to best honor Elizabeth—and her husband and two young children—we rededicated ourselves to the fight against assisted suicide that led us to Elizabeth and her family in the first place.
Proponents of legalized assisted suicide paint a picture of an easy, painless and dignified way to honor a suffering loved one’s last wishes and say goodbye.
But Elizabeth taught us that every life is worth fighting for—and that our loved ones suffering from serious illnesses deserve far more than abandonment to hopelessness, depression and suicide.
She taught us that people who say they want to end their own lives should receive proper care and intervention—no matter who they are. We should absolutely intervene when the healthy want to end their lives. Those suffering from illness should be treated no differently—not abandoned to suicidal thoughts.
And our medical professionals should continue to be trusted as healers—not complicit in acts of suicide.
If all we can offer those who suffer is a bottle of pills and a stamp of approval on their suicide, we have lost all compassion and dedication to the sanctity of human life.
Elizabeth’s life was worth fighting for till her Savior took her home. And Family Policy Alliance will continue to honor her—and every person who suffers from a serious illness—by fighting for policies that affirm the life and worth of each person. And we will unashamedly oppose efforts to legalize assisted suicide.
Seven states, including New Jersey this year, and D.C. have legalized assisted suicide, and 21 others considered doing so this year.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for helping every person who knew you—and many who didn’t—understand that every life is worth fighting for.
And to your beautiful family, we pray you know your wife and mother was—and continues to be—an inspiration to all. We will never abandon the fight for life, from conception to natural death.
Thank you, Elizabeth.
Vice President of Strategy
P.S. Will you help us honor Elizabeth and her family today? Will you share her video story on your social media using the hashtag #WorthFightingFor or by simply forwarding this email to your friends? We pray Elizabeth continues to inspire countless lives, even from Heaven, and that her impact will be a source of comfort to her husband and children.
By Autumn Leva, Vice President of Strategy
In 2016, we shared with you the story of JJ Hanson, the “man of steel,” who served as President of one of Family Policy Alliance’s national allied organizations, Patients Rights Action Fund, fighting against assisted suicide.
JJ was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014. Rather than choosing the path of assisted suicide that was highly sensationalized by 29-year-old Brittany Maynard who had the same kind of cancer, JJ chose to move past his depression and live every moment with his family.
Through his position with Patients Rights Action Fund, he also devoted his days, not ever knowing how many there would be, to helping lawmakers in states across the country understand the implications of legalizing assisted suicide for patients, for the medical field, for persons with disabilities, and especially for families. He gave his time to providing official testimony, sharing his personal story, and meeting with lawmakers one-on-one to encourage them to oppose any bill that would legalize assisted suicide.
JJ was only supposed to live about four months from his diagnosis in May 2014. He just passed away on December 30th.
Paul Weber, President and CEO for Family Policy Alliance believes JJ’s life greatly influenced our nation and, most importantly, his family: “JJ devoted his last days to his family and to making sure that lawmakers around the country got the message that every life is worth fighting for—what an incredibly legacy for his wife and children. My team and I at Family Policy Alliance send our deepest sympathies and prayers to the Hanson family, and to our friends at Patients Rights Action Fund.”
We pray JJ’s family takes comfort in knowing that despite efforts in nearly 30 states by Compassion & Choices, the leading activist organization attempting to legalize assisted suicide, no state legalized the practice in 2017 (with the exception of D.C.). Family Policy Alliance is committed to making sure that as lawmakers head back to state Capitols in 2018, no bills to legalize assisted suicide advance. We hope you’ll join us in honoring JJ by declaring that every life is worth fighting for.
For more stories about why assisted suicide is bad policy, check out these short videos:
If you’d like to offer condolences to JJ’s family, his wife Kris requested individuals send donations to the Can’t Hurt Steel Community Foundation, PO Box 333, Eldred, NY 12732.
Elizabeth has brain cancer, but she’s made the decision to live every moment with her family. She knows real suffering, but she also knows real hope and a life worth fighting for.
Increasingly, activist groups are pushing for legalized assisted suicide so that doctors can prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients like Elizabeth. Nationwide, 45 bills to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced. With your help, Family Policy Alliance and our network of 40 state-based family policy councils have been able to stop all of these bills so far this year by revealing the many layers of abuse and the culture of hopelessness and death that come with legal assisted suicide.
“The lead activist group pushing to legalize assisted suicide spent over $1 Million in Hawaii alone,” said Stephanie Curry, public policy manager for Family Policy Alliance, “but Family Policy Alliance and our state ally Hawaii Family Forum worked with families concerned about the potential for abuse against the elderly and those with serious illnesses to stop the Hawaii bill.”
That potential for abuse is why assisted suicide is illegal in most states. Only a handful of states have legal assisted suicide and until recently, Alabama was one of only three states that didn’t have a specific statute prohibiting the practice. The Alabama Legislature just passed a law that would officially make assisted suicide illegal in the state. HB 96 also includes criminal penalties for those who try to administer a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients.
This bill upholds the sanctity of human life in the state and provides protection for the elderly, those with physical and mental disabilities.
“We are thrilled to work with families across the country who believe every life is worth fighting for,” Curry said. “No one should be abandoned to the hopelessness and lack of care that comes with assisted suicide—we can work together to come up with far better options for our loved ones than that.”
Elizabeth and her family know what it’s like to live with cancer.
The bag full of prescription drugs, the good days and bad days, the priceless value of just being there when her son and daughter hit a new milestone. All of that gives her a unique perspective on the issue of assisted suicide.
It’s a hot topic in state capitols around the country. But her pro-life perspective is often lost in the political posturing.
Before you decide what you think about this important issue, please listen to what she has to say.
Learn more about our Worth Fighting For project.