February 29, 2004

Sneaking It In

Reason at longevity meme points to news about the Council on Bioethics.

Late Friday (the time at which Presidents do things that they don't want covered too closely in the news) the President fired Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. William May from the President's Council on Bioethics. These individuals had voiced opinions in favor of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.
The new members of the panel are Dr. Benjamin Carson of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a pediatric neurologist; Peter Lawler, a government professor at Berry College in George; and Diana Schaub, a political scientist at Loyola College of Maryland.
These replacements are known to be against stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. Schaub has called the practice "slavery plus abortion."

This is profoundly disappointing. I'm particularly discouraged by the firing of Dr. May. Dr. May is a former president of the American Academy of Religion and is known as an outspoken Christian bioethicist. As a Christian, Dr. May could have voiced to Bush the viewpoint that embryonic stem cell research is compatible with the Christian faith.

Blogger Chris Mooney writes,
We now know how President Bush responds to highly publicized charges that he's stacking scientific advisory panels: He gives his critics the finger and stacks another one.
I don't think this is about giving critics "the finger." A smart politician never does anything that will energize the opposition without some benefit to his own agenda. Bush's move is a response to recent actions by New Jersey. In January New Jersey passed a stem cell law that outlaws reproductive cloning and promotes embryonic stem cell research.
When New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey signed a stem cell bill this week [January 8, 2004], the state became only the second in the United States—after California—to pass legislation specifically outlawing reproductive cloning and promoting human embryonic stem cell research. Scientists around the state hailed the law as a big step forward for their work.
Presumably Bush would be in favor of outlawing reproductive cloning. New Jersey is now one of the few states to have a law that prohibits this. But then New Jersey chose last Tuesday to fund stem cell research after Bush very publicly defunded it.
"Today [February 24], I propose to go where no other state has gone—to invest state funds in your courage and the hopes of so many families—with the creation of a new research institute, the New Jersey Institute for Stem Cell Research," said [Governor] McGreevey in his budget address.
When making policy on matters as important as stem cell research it's crucial for the President to hear all viewpoints - unless he's already made up his mind. That's the problem here. Bush has made up his mind and isn't interested in hearing opposing views anymore. He wants justification for the policy he's decided on. He wants to be able to say to Congress "This bill I'm sponsoring is supported 100% by my Council on Bioethics."

We are getting a glimpse of what Bush intends to do in his second term regarding therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. It's no longer sufficient that the research is not federally funded. Now that individual states are showing a willingness to pick up this slack, he is preparing to outlaw it nationally. Why else would he care so much about the composition of the Council on Bioethics?

Posted by Stephen Gordon at February 29, 2004 07:00 AM | TrackBack

Now that individual states are showing a willingness to pick up this slack, he is preparing to outlaw it nationally.

Can a constitutional ammendment be far behind?

In my lifetime, no President whom I supported has worked so callously and consistently to alienate me. President Bush is apparently counting on winning this election by default -- the Democratic candidate will be so beatable that a Republican victory will be inevitable.

Didn't his father make a similar mistake, riding a wave of victory in the Middle East? If the Bushes were Greek heroes, their tragic flaw would be hubris.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the Dems can persuade me that their candidate is serious about the war and will continue to take it to our enemies, I'm dropping Bush like a bad habit.

Posted by: Phil at February 29, 2004 07:36 AM


Unfortunately Kerry has been completely unserious about national defense - voting for the war in Iraq and now saying he doesn't support it - even voting against funding for the troops while they are there fighting.

I'm almost relieved that I'm not living in a contested state. This is going to be a tough decision in November.

Posted by: Stephen Gordon at February 29, 2004 09:40 AM

Glenn Reynolds says that he'll be putting up a Tech Central Station article tomorrow on this council reshuffle:


Have to keep an eye open for that.

Posted by: Reason at February 29, 2004 02:41 PM