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Remembering Barbara Hammer, LGBTQ and medical aid-in-dying activist

This Pride month, we remember filmmaker and LGBTQ activist Barbara Hammer who died this year after living with ovarian cancer for 12 years. She was an incredible advocate who joined Compassion & Choices to fight for the option to medical aid in dying in her home state of New York.

“All of us, regardless of what we believe, deserve to die in a way that is consistent with our beliefs. My strong belief is in autonomy at the end.”


Barbara Hammer

Barbara did multiple local interviews in her last month of life to urge the New York Legislature to pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act. She also invited Compassion & Choices to her home to film a video urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

“My cancer is incurable…I will reach a very debilitated state. My doctor has told me that,” says Barbara in the video video in which she cites enduring more than 100 chemo treatments over 12 years since her ovarian cancer diagnosis before she entered hospice last year. “I would so much like to be able to manage my own death by choosing the time and the person I’d like to have with me, so that I can die in comfort and with compassion and not in pain and morphine-drugged.”

In February, she wrote for the New York Daily News: “I want Gov. Cuomo and state legislators to hear the request of this dying woman. Please pass the Medical Aid in Dying Act to allow terminally ill New Yorkers to decide if they want to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take if their suffering becomes intolerable, so they can end their lives peacefully in their sleep. All of us, regardless of what we believe, deserve to die in a way that is consistent with our beliefs.”

Barbara died on Saturday, March 16, 2019. She was 79.