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Leading Democrat refusing dying patients access to experimental treatments that may save their lives

Harry Reid

(NaturalNews) Retiring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the chamber's minority leader, has a well-deserved reputation for being hyper-partisan and downright obstinate. Though he regularly blames Republicans for being "obstructionists," there are few in Congress' upper chamber who can out-obstruct the obstructionist-in-chief.

Now, with just a few months left in office, he's up to his old tricks again, this time holding Americans hostage who are suffering with terminal illnesses.

AMI Newswire reports that Reid is blocking legislation authored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that would allow patients with terminal illnesses to use experimental treatments that have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (more on this in a moment).

Johnson's measure, which has 42 co-sponsors, including a pair of Democrats, recognizes that drug and medical treatment approval from the FDA is often a very long and costly pursuit. Sometimes drugs and treatments are shelved for years pending the final approval process, as testing and other procedures are performed. In short, the FDA approval process most often comes with many hurdles to leap, even after initial safety trials come back with favorable results.

Let patients decide

So, their bill, the Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2016 (S. 2912), gives patients the right to access those drugs and medical treatments, while offering legal protection to manufacturers and distributors for experimental usage, provided such usage is in accordance with state laws.

In addition, the measure would allow the experimental treatments to be administered without affecting the results of clinical trials.

In late September, Johnson attempted to gain "unanimous consent" to fast-track the bill into consideration by the full Senate. Only Reid objected, claiming that the measure is too partisan and demanding hearings on it.

Johnson responded the next day, noting that the Senate panel he chairs, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has already held two hearings on the bill. He also noted that Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana were co-sponsors. And, as to Reid's charge that his attempt to fast track the bill was a "cheap stunt" to help Johnson's reelection campaign, the senator from Wisconsin further noted that Reid's own home state of Nevada passed similar legislation last year, becoming the 18th state to do so at the time – with unanimous support from Republicans and Democrats alike.

"I assure you that whatever the result [of the November election], I will return to the Senate floor in November on behalf of all those terminally ill patients who could care less about partisan politics in Washington and want only the right to save their own lives," Johnson wrote in a letter to Reid about his obstructionism.

Since then, another 14 states have passed so-called "right to try" legislation, making it one of the country's fastest-growing policy innovations, AMI Newswire reported.

"A lot of people are willing to try a medication that hasn't been proven to work, on the chance that it might work," Timothy Sandefur, an attorney with the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, told AMI. "It should be the patient's right to decide." (More on that in a moment, too.)

Good riddance, Harry Reid

As for Reid, Johnson rightfully accused him of putting his own personal political agenda ahead of suffering, terminally ill patients, like the young mother from a Milwaukee suburb that the bill is named after. Trickett Wendler passed away in March after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Reid has a history of checking his compassion at the Senate door.

During an October 2013 press conference, Reid upbraided a CNN reporter and questioned her intelligence for asking him why he – then leader of the Senate – refused to allow a vote on a spending bill that would have provided funding for children with cancer.

As for the entire premise of this bill, Sandefur is exactly right: Government should never have the final say over an individual's medical care, and Reid is the reason why.

Such decisions should be taken out of the hands of vindictive, obstructionist lawmakers like him, and given back to the people who are living through terminal illness and searching for something – anything – that might save their lives.

Again, Reid is retiring this year. Good riddance.





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