White House Names Members of Bioethics Council
President Bush yesterday announced the names of 17 academics, physicians, lawyers, scientists and theologians who have been appointed to the President's Council on Bioethics, which is scheduled to address the issue of human cloning at its first meeting today, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 1/17). The Wall Street Journal reports that the panel members include several people who are known to oppose human cloning, including syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer; University of California-Los Angeles professor emeritus James Wilson; Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University; and Francis Fukuyama, an author and a professor at Johns Hopkins University (McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 1/17). The panel also includes Mary Ann Glendon, a law professor at Harvard University who "once described embryo research as 'morally repugnant'" and who has "held lay positions in the Roman Catholic Church," which opposes cloning and embryonic stem cell research, the Boston Globe reports. Other panel members include Harvard University professor Michael Sandel; Gilbert Meilaender, a "conservative" Lutheran theologian from Indiana; Yale University law professor Stephen Carter; Michael Gazzaniga, a brain researcher at Dartmouth College; Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, a professor of metaphysics and moral philosophy at Georgetown University; and Dr. Janet Rowley, a professor of medicine, cell biology and genetics at the University of Chicago (Leonard, Boston Globe, 1/17). The executive director of the council is Dean Clancy, a "self-described Christian 'proclaimer' who favors a greater religious presence in the schools," the Washington Post reports. The panel is chaired by Leon Kass, a University of Chicago bioethicist who has expressed opposition to human cloning (Weiss, Washington Post, 1/17). The group's first meeting is expected to last two days (Meckler, Associated Press, 1/17).
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said yesterday that the panel is a "diverse group of individuals ... who will bring a variety of perspectives to [the] challenging issues" of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning (Boston Globe, 1/17). University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan, who is not on the council, said that he believes the council is "reasonably balanced" (AP/New York Times, 1/17). However, some observers say the council is "politically stacked" because many of the members are "conservative" and are known to oppose human cloning (Washington Post, 1/17). The biotechnology industry has "complain[ed]" that at least seven of the members oppose all forms of human cloning and that there are "no known supporters" of therapeutic cloning on the council (Willing, USA Today, 1/17). But the Washington Post reports that some panel members carry "liberal credentials," including Gazzaniga, Rowland and Washington University law school professor Rebecca Dresser. Experts have said that every panel member is "an intellectual powerhouse," which could "prove more important than the group's political balance." Kass added that the council "will transcend preconceptions and politics" and "uphold its mission to study the issues thoroughly and provide the president with the best advice it can." Kass vowed to "surprise the public with the breadth of opinion and creative approaches he intends to bring to bear" (Washington Post, 1/17). For a full list of panel members, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57536-2002Jan16.html.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.