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Calif. Gov. Brown Vetoes Right To Try Bill, Denies Terminally Ill Access to Potentially Lifesaving Drugs

October 12, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Today Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 159, the California Right To Try Act. A signing would have made California the 25th state to adopt the legislation, which lets doctors prescribe treatments for the terminally ill that are being used in clinical trials, but are still awaiting final approval by the FDA.

“I am very disappointed in Governor Brown’s devastating veto of The Right To Try bill. This allows the FDA to retain control over my ability to save my own life while I still have time. Terminal patients in California now have no possibility of hope to prolong their lives,” said Mike DeBartoli, a former Sacramento firefighter suffering from ALS.

AB 159, The California Right To Try Act passed by the Assembly and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill was sponsored by Assembly Member Ian Calderon, a Democrat representing communities east of Los Angeles, and Senator Jeff Stone, a Republican from the San Diego area who sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.

Kurt Altman, the director of national affairs and special counsel for the Goldwater Institute, which designed the law said, “Governor Brown has deprived Californians of the right to try to save their lives when their mortality hangs in the balance. We hope that the legislature will work together in a bipartisan effort to override Governor Brown’s veto.”

Right To Try laws have been adopted in two dozen states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

“When Governor Brown signed a “Right to Die” law just days ago, he said ‘I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.’ It’s ironic that Governor Brown supports the right to die but not the right to try to live,” said Altman.

Right To Try is limited to patients with a terminal disease who have exhausted all government-approved treatment options and cannot enroll in a clinical trial. All medications available under the law must have successfully completed basic safety testing and be part of the FDA’s ongoing approval process.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both reported that the Right To Try movement is prompting long overdue change at the FDA.

Follow progress of the national Right To Try movement on Facebook or at


About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.



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