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Presenting at the Second International Conference on the End of Life

This presentation stemmed from Oliver's work in the aging community and a policy debate: In 2015, both chambers of the US Congress considered two legislative proposals related to care at the end of life. One proposal passed the House of Representatives as part of a larger package, and this proposal paralleled a “right to try” movement. The other proposal failed to be amended into a larger package being debated by the Senate, and this proposal would have assisted in advance care planning efforts with seniors.

While these two pieces of legislation are unrelated, it is striking how easily the “right to try” passed as part of a larger bill while at the same time, a very modest proposal on the periphery of the “right to die” debate did not. And in state legislatures across the nation, such efforts are even more dramatic: “right to try” bills have passed in several states while “right to die” proposals have not seen even a fraction of the same success. With the anti-regulatory Trump Administration potentially considering an FDA commissioner with a libertarian bent, stakeholders wonder if there will be an administrative push for a federal “right to try.”

This proposal will discuss the legal underpinnings of both “rights” and the current policy debate over each. This debate says a lot not only about politics in the United States but also our policies around end-of-life decision-making. While we want a society that values life, we also want a society that empowers individuals to make their own decisions, particularly about their health and well-being.

Learn more about our work in global health and aging.

Oliver Kim