Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Life and Liberty vs the FDA

Even by today's standards of bizarre judicial rulings, this recent federal appeals court ruling is truly shocking.

"In a 8-2 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled terminally ill patients do not have a constitutional right to have access to life- saving drugs that have passed only limited safety trials and have not been approved for marketing.
'We conclude there is no fundamental right deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition of access to experimental drugs for the terminally ill,' Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the majority." ( emphasis added)

There is "no fundamental right" of a private American citizen to take whatever actions he deems necessary, short of violating the rights of others, to further his own life and well-being? What constitution is Judge Griffith and the court majority looking at? Is not the right to Life and Liberty "deeply rooted in this nations history"?. Does not the phrase "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men" in the Declaration of Independence constitute the very foundational principle upon which the American constitution in based?

The ruling overturned a previous court decision which upheld a dying patient’s “fundamental right to potentially life-saving medicine” because “[t]he decision threatened to shake the foundations of the FDA's regulatory authority, with the agency arguing such a right would create unacceptable risks for patients[?] and undermine the clinical trial system” (emphasis added). Translation: the bureaucratic power of government officials takes precedence over the rights and lives of private citizens.

What we are seeing is a concrete example of the nature of collectivism (the supremacy of the group over the individual) and it’s moral foundation, altruism (which upholds individual self-sacrifice for the sake of others as a person’s highest virtue), in action. Of what importance are the rights of a few terminally ill patients and their selfish desire to live, asks this court and the FDA, compared to the needs of “society”, as determined by federal regulators?

The government’s primary function is to protect the rights of it’s citizens, not to engage in the sacrifice of some for the benefit of others. Liberty includes the right to engage in the free and uncoerced trade of goods and services. A patient has the right to take on the risks of experimental drugs. A pharmaceutical company has the right to sell or give the medicine to the patient (as well as to deny it to the patient if, for example, doing so would jeopardize it’s clinical trials by shrinking the pool of potential volunteers) on it’s sole discretion. The government's role should only be to ensure that the medicines potential effects are not misrepresented (which is fraud), and that the patient (or his designated representative) is completely well informed.

This atrocious ruling is a violation of individual rights and of the government’s proper function and should be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

(For more on this case, see The Deadly FDA.)



Sue said...

What a huge blow to the terminally ill. This goes along the same lines as the elderly and terminally ill being denied treatment under existing Socialized Medical programs in Canada and the UK. These people have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain! But the bottom line is - their life, THEIR choice.

Christine said...

It is an appalling ruling. I do however take issue with your comment about altruism. Altruism plays no part in this ruling because by definition altruism is not forced. The sacrifice of the terminally ill is not being made by themselves but by the government.

Mike Zemack said...

A response to Sue and Christine:
The principle one must grasp is that politics is a reflection of the dominant ideas accepted, both consciously and subconsciously, in a culture. Since it is widely accepted that altruism (not to be confused with good will or generosity) is an individual's highest moral purpose, and selfishness is inherently evil, then these beliefs must necessarily
be reflected in politics.

While it is true that the definition of altruism does not connect it directly to force, one cannot view politics(i.e., the realm of force) in isolation. Both this ruling as well as Sue's excellent parallel to socialized medicine's sacrificial practices are examples of altruism in action in the political realm.

Indeed, every form of tyranny in history, whether theocratic or secular, as well as the collectivist trends undermining America's founding principle of "inalienable individual rights", has altruism as it's rationale and moral justification.

Mike Kevitt said...

The concept, realm of force, is certainly valid in human relationships. But, it doesn't make a crucial distinction, from the egoist standpoint: that of initiatory force, and responsive force against initiation. Given an over-arching cultual organization of physical power of force over human affairs, egoism requires this distinction, because egoism requires response only, when initiation occurs. Without an overwhelmingly widespread cultural grasp of this distinction, initiatory force will be the rule, the primary function of the over-arching organization. The initiators (criminals) running it will "justify" it, if needed, by altruism. Good enough for a culture of confusion. A big part of the confusion is having everybody think of it as law, government, and politics, instead of what it is: criminal plans, crime and infighting or gang wars, with the confused people as the actual victims. For this reason, the undifferentiated realm of force shouldn't be called politics. Politics should refer to law, government, the activities of both, and all other activities that directly maintain and oversee both. This is the realm of responsive force, or self-defense, as per egoism, rather than the realm of initiatory force, or crime, as per altruism. In accordance with reality and human nature, the concept, realm of force, must be not merely thus divided, but the division carried through that of the over-arching organization. This is the primary facilitator egoism, individual rights, law, government and politics.

Mike Zemack said...

My phrase, "realm of force" should have read "realm of legalized force", which I actually meant. And yes, the distinction between retaliatory and initiative force is crucial. See my left sidebar "Principles of a Free Society under "Recommended Reading".