Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 14, 2008

Supreme Court To The Sick And Dying: The Only Right You Have Is The Right To Die

by Doug Mataconis

Today, the Supreme Court declined to accept an appeal in a case that asks the question — do terminally ill patients have the right to access to experimental drugs ?:

The Supreme Court today declined to consider whether dying patients have a right to be treated with experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The court, without comment or recorded dissent, let stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which said the terminally ill have no constitutional right to drugs the agency had considered safe enough for additional testing.

The challenge was brought by the Washington Legal Foundation and the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. The latter organization is headed by Frank Burroughs of Fredericksburg, and named in honor of his daughter, Abigail Burroughs, who was diagnosed at 19 and died at 21 of a form of cancer rare in someone her age.

The young woman died in 2001, and the drug she was seeking was later approved.

Because, of course, a bureaucrat in Washington has the right to decide if someone who will die anyway should try a risky procedure.

What is particularly distressing about this is that this wasn’t a ruling on the merits of the case, it was simply a ruling on whether the court would accept the case for appeal. All that’s needed to accept a case is a “yes” vote from four of the nine justices. Which means there aren’t even four members of the Supreme Court willing to give this issue the hearing it deserves.

This issue is personal to me because I have a family member who died from cancer and if there was any chance that an experimental drug or procedure would have prolonged her life, she would’ve tried it. She was my mother.

Today, the Supreme Court effectively said that she, and the millions of other people suffering from conditions that will kill them, can just die.

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  • Bryan

    Hey thats alright. Their time will come when they will be judged themselves for the actions they have done. Not to mention, if they get sick, they are screwing themselves. HAHAHAHA.

  • UCrawford

    It doesn’t bother me because I trust politicians with my private medical decisions.

    I should probably caveat that by saying that I’m also a masochist with a death wish.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Crawford,

    And you believe in the Easter Bunny ? Right ? ;)

  • http://eastcoastlibertarian.blogspot.com East Coast Libertarian

    Another reason to throw Washington v Glucksberg under the bus. What an awful ruling.

  • Bill

    Of course they don’t care about anyone and would have the sick die, the sooner the better, rather than have them around consuming resources. The hypocrisy is breathtaking though, they are perfectly willing to force children to take mind altering drugs so they sit like lumps in class, but they will not give someone who is dying one last chance at a cure.

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