On May 30, 2018, President Trump whose newly-found pro-life bona fides can no longer be in doubt, signed the Right to Try Act of 2017, which amends Federal law to allow certain FDA-unapproved, still experimental drugs to be administered to terminally ill patients who have otherwise exhausted all approved treatment options. Eligible drugs must nevertheless have undergone FDA phase I (safety) testing. Among other aspects of the legislation, the law limits the liability of manufacturers, prescribers or dispenses which provide or decline to provide an eligible experimental drug.
President Trump cogently explained: “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I’d see people-friends of mine, and other people I’dread about, where they’d travel all over the world looking for a cure. And we have the best medical people in the world.”
The analogy between Right to Try and Right to Die should be lost on no one. When people enter a terminal phase, society should do all that is feasible to assist those in greatest need. If the individual wishes to try an experimental drug which may give hope if not a cure, should we really allow bureaucratic red tape condemn that person to an early death. Likewise, if a terminal person has concluded that the suffering and hopelessness are no longer worth the struggle, shouldn’t we provide redress, in whatever form it might take?
President Trump bemoaned the fact that our laws forced terminal patients to get up and seek treatment in another country. Today in America, a terminal patient who seeks a peaceful end is equally forced to seek MAID in one of the 8 (well, for the time being 7 during prosecution of the appeal of California’s temporary limbo) jurisdictions where the procedure is legal.
What we are seeing is a general movement to disintermediate those hierarchical patriarchial forces which insist that they know better what is good for a patient, whether it is the Catholic Church, the AMA, or the FDA. Slowly, the revolution of patient autonomy is being accepted and the individual is allowed to decide his or her future.
Ed Tiryakian, J.D., MBA, founded Dying Right NC in 2015 and is its Executive Director. He previously worked in international banking in Asia before retiring to his native NC.He believes End of Life issues are one of society’s most pressing challenges as we all live longer and the medicalization of the dying process continues to conflict with the individual’s right to choose his or her end.