Obama Plans to Replace Bush's Bioethics Panel
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
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per> 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
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/george_w_bush/index.html?inline=nyt-per> in November 2001, in
the wake of his decision to let government-financed scientists begin
research with human stem cells
only with existing cell cultures.
Mr. Bush's council was first led by Leon
Kass of the University of Chicago
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.
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
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.