NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Barbara Hammer is 79 years old, a ground-breaking artist and filmmaker who’s lived an incredible life.
“I’ve done everything I need to do, I made a million films, I’ve been around the world,” she told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu. “It’s been a pleasure to live and living has been terrific.”
But she now wants the right to die. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 12 years ago and has undergone surgery and 100 chemotherapy treatments.
She’s now terminal and getting hospice care at home, and she says she doesn’t want to die in pain or unconscious from morphine.
“Let’s say that I don’t die for a week or two weeks or even more, and then I’m suffering during that time and then I can’t talk to others you know because I’m so out of it,” said Hammer.
Right now there are right to die laws in seven states and Washington DC, and nearly 30 states have introduced similar bills.
Many are fighting against right to die laws, including Diane Coleman with the disability rights group Not Dead Yet.
She uses breathing support for a neuromuscular disability and says the group’s concern is the possibility of abuse and coercion with such a law.
“Once the drugs are in the home anything can happen,” said Coleman. “If a family member wants things to be over sooner, there’s really very little an ill person can do to prevent that.”
Hammer says she wants the choice to die peacefully and is fighting for the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act. It would allow terminally ill adults to get a doctor’s prescription for medicine that would end their life.
Last year a Quinnipiac poll found 63 percent of New Yorkers polled supported medical aid in dying, while 29 percent opposed it.
LOOKING BACK: State Lawmakers Spar Over Right-To-Die Proposal
“I would just ask people to be compassionate and understanding and realize that if you don’t like it you don’t have to do it, it’s strictly a personal choice,” said Florrie Burke, Hammer’s wife.
Barbara has always lived an exciting, independent life and says she wants the right to die with dignity.