Iconic Tenn. politician given months to live pushes for dying with dignity

John Jay Hooker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you knew you were going to die soon, would you want to be able to determine when and where?

Dying with dignity, euthanasia, assisted suicide, mercy killing… Call it what you will, but here in Tennessee and most other states, it is illegal.

Tennessee state lawmakers are now being asked to change that.

Iconic Tennessee politician John Jay Hooker, now 84 years old, is leading the charge for dying with dignity.

“I have, unfortunately for me, been advised that I only have a few months to live,” Hooker told a House health subcommittee Tuesday.

The civil rights fighter and one-time Democratic gubernatorial nominee has been diagnosed with malignant melanoma.

“Long before I got interested in my own salvation, my own health, I was interested in the right of all people to die with dignity,” Hooker explained.

He now wants to be able to decide when and where he dies, calling it the last true civil right.

“And what I am saying to you is the right to die with dignity seems to be a human right, a right that has come long before the Constitution,” Hooker said. “[It] came as part of being a human being.”

The politician cited Brittany Maynard, the 28-year-old who was dying of a brain tumor and had to move to Oregon in order to undergo assisted death.

Oregon is among only two others, Washington and Vermont, which allow dying with dignity.

“I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I want to tell you in my whole heart that you will never pass or never sit on a more important subject than the right to die with dignity,” Hooker added.

There are least two dying with dignity proposals being considered in Tennessee.

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