Obama Plans to Replace Bush's Bioethics Panel

	The latest on President Obama, the new administration and 
other news from Washington and around the nation.

	The council was disbanded because it was designed by the Bush 
administration to be "a philosophically leaning advisory group" that 
favored discussion over developing a shared consensus, said Reid 
Cherlin, a White House press officer.

	President Obama 
will appoint a new bioethics commission, one with a new mandate and 
that "offers practical policy options," Mr. Cherlin said.

	The council was appointed by President George W. Bush 
in November 2001, in the wake of his decision to let 
government-financed scientists begin research with human stem cells 
but only with existing cell cultures.

	Mr. Bush's council was first led by Leon Kass of the 
University of Chicago 
and, since 2005, by Edmund Pellegrino of Georgetown University 

	Under Dr. Kass in particular, the council was sometimes 
accused of being more ideological than its predecessors, but several 
bioethicists said that was not entirely fair.

	"The other view is that all presidential commissions are 
structured in the context of a particular administration," said Dr. 
Ruth Faden, a bioethicist at John Hopkins University.

	Bioethics commissions, mostly at the presidential level, have 
been in existence since 1974. Composed mostly of biologists and 
ethicists, they have served to familiarize the public with new 
advances and have developed guidance on contentious issues like 
genetic engineering, human cloning and research on humans.

	Under Dr. Kass the council produced reports with a somewhat 
philosophical bent on issues like the screening of newborns and how 
to determine death. Several bioethicists said Wednesday that a new 
commission could also focus on giving more practical guidance.

	"If we wish to enhance the quality of health care, we will 
need gobs of quality-improvement studies," said Thomas H. Murray, 
president of the Hastings Center, a bioethics research organization.

	Dr. Alta Charo, an ethicist at the University of Wisconsin 
said that much of the Bush council's work "seemed more like a public 
debating society" and that a new commission should focus on helping 
the government form ethically defensible policy.