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Defending Your Right...to Die

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Senate bill, last week, largely along party lines, to give those facing a terminal illness the “right to try.” That is, the right to try experimental drugs and treatments that haven’t yet been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Of course, Congress doesn’t actually bestow rights upon us. We have always had the common law right — indeed, the human right — to freely seek a path to wellness when we are ill.

From time immemorial. Even before the FDA.

So, more correctly stated, this legislation, Senate Bill 204, was a way to announce that the congressionally-created FDA would stop blocking our freedom . . . provided we are dying and the government-approved medical establishment has no more licensed hope to offer.

The bill now goes to President Trump, who can’t wait to sign it.

“People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure,” he declared in his last State of the Union. “I want to give them a chance right here at home.”

Democrats overwhelmingly disagreed, however. As did the news media. But I mostly repeat myself.

“‘Right-to-Try’ Drug Law Offers No Miracle Cure,” proclaimed the buoyant Bloomberg News headline, followed by the subheading, “Legislation aimed at increasing access to unproven treatments could create false hope in desperate patients and bankroll iffy drugs.”

“This will provide fly-by-night physicians and clinics the opportunity to peddle false hope and ineffective drugs to desperate patients,” argued Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

In other words, we cannot trust our doctors (who we discovered we cannot keep, either) or the medical system with its peddling of “false hope.” And what better expert to consult on the ins and outs of phony promises than a 30-year incumbent Congressman?

Individual patients certainly cannot be permitted the freedom to make decisions for themselves, they suggest — especially against the wishes of our federal guardians who speak for science and know best.

Media reports also seemed to go out of their way to point out that sick patients would still not be able to use experimental, unapproved drugs unless the pharmaceutical company agreed to provide them. No duh — as if most of us imagined we could simply demand the drugs be delivered in unmarked child-proof pill bottles to a warehouse on the outskirts of town, no questions asked.

And for free.

Oh, you mean, our medical system doesn’t work that way? Well, this bill wasn’t sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

CBS News picked up on the “rights” issue that I noted earlier: “Despite good intentions – and the legislation’s name – right to try legislation grants no rights.” The Courage Broadcasting System added somberly, “Patients would be allowed to try experimental drugs, but nothing in the legislation would make it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to provide these medications.”

The legislation didn’t nationalize the drug companies? What a rip-off!

There’s another problem, too. Apparently, the Deep State opposes this law. A National Public Radio report, entitled, “Right To Try Act Poses Big Challenge For FDA,” noted that, “[FDA Commissioner] Gottlieb may soon face his toughest balancing act: implementing the Right to Try Act.”

What is there that needs balancing? Isn’t the FDA supposed to actually follow the law? I mean, even if “they” don’t want to.

“Gottlieb also raised the concern that under the Right to Try Act companies and others providing experimental drugs to patients wouldn’t be subject to many rules and regulations related to clinical trials, premarket approval and labeling,” NPR explained. “That could preclude the FDA from taking enforcement actions based on those provisions.”

Bingo! That would be the point.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) likewise charged that S. 204 “puts patients at risk by allowing the sale of snake oil.” But, of course, these patients are dying. That’s already as “at risk” as it gets.

Most folks realize that this new law allowing them to try unapproved drugs and treatments carries no guarantee that their lives will be magically saved. That’s why the cause has been dubbed merely “the right to try.”

That Democrats and so much of the Fourth Estate are hostile to this smidgen of greater freedom — either because of disdain for the decision-making acumen of Americans or hubristic faith in government bureaucrats and experts — should not be quickly forgotten.

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