Dalhousie Law Journal


United States, right to try, terminally ill, drugs, right to die, medicine, dying, rights, legislation, United States Surpeme Court


In the United States, efforts to create a "rightto try," or to provide access for the terminally ill to try experimental drugs, have seen overwhelming success in passing state legislatures. This success provided the foundation for advocates' long-term goal of a federal right to try. Yet proposals ranging from very modest advance-care-planning consultations to the "rightto die,"or medical aid in dying, face steep political challenges despite seeming public support. This paper discusses the legal underpinnings of both "rights" and the current political and policy debate over each. More often than not, these "rights" are grantedthrough legislation rather than judicial decisions, and the US Supreme Court has held that neither "right" can be found in the Constitution. This debate says a lot not only about politics in the United States but also our policies around autonomy at the end of life.