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Pennsylvania Becomes 38th State To Pass Right to Try

October 13, 2017

Phoenix—Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 45, making the Keystone State the 38th state to pass legislation protecting the right of terminally ill patients to try investigational treatments that could save or extend their lives.

The new Right to Try law was sponsored by Rep. Robert Godshall, whose own life was saved thanks to his receiving an investigational treatment for bone marrow cancer. Pennsylvania is the sixth state to approve Right to Try legislation in 2017, with Ohio, Kentucky, Washington, Iowa, and Maryland passing their own Right to Try bills earlier this year. The law empowers terminal Pennsylvanians to pursue treatments that have passed the FDA’s Phase 1 safety trials but have not yet received final FDA approval.

Pennsylvania’s Right to Try bill received unanimous support in both houses of the state assembly, with the Senate passing the bill 49-0 and the House approving it 198-0 two days later. “Patients, doctors, and policymakers nationwide support Right to Try because it gives terminally ill people a ray of hope, an opportunity to explore further options when all others have been exhausted,” said Christina Sandefur, executive vice president of the Goldwater Institute. “Protecting people’s right to try to save their own lives is not about partisan politics – it’s about principles and people. We look forward to the day when Right to Try is the law of the land.”

“We congratulate Rep. Godshall and every member of the Pennsylvania Assembly today, all of whom played an important role in giving Pennsylvanians a wider variety of treatment options without the need to beg the government for permission,” Sandefur continued.

Rep. Godshall has said that his status as a member of the Pennsylvania House allowed him to gain access to the investigational treatment for his cancer, but clout shouldn’t be necessary to have the opportunity to pursue such treatments. “It shouldn’t be that you have to be in the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania or any other house of representatives to access life-saving experimental medications,” Rep. Godshall said in a PennLive video posted earlier this year. “It should be available to everybody.”

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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