Pres. Obama to appoint new “bioethics commission”

From CNA with my emphases and comments:

Obama plan to disband Bioethics Council draws criticism

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2009 / 06:14 am (CNA).- Last week, it was made public that President Obama will disband the President’s Council on Bioethics, and create a new bioethics commission, whose members he will appoint. The decision has drawn criticism from those who believe it is simply an attempt to replace current Council members with more liberal ones.  [D’ya think?]

Since 1974, presidential bioethics commissions have worked to help develop guidance on issues such as genetic engineering and human cloning["such as".   I suppose they deal with other questions as well.] The current Council on Bioethics was appointed by President George W. Bush in November 2001, as the debates surrounding human stem cell research grew.  Bush’s Council was initially led by Leon Kass of the University of Chicago and, since 2005, by Edmund Pellegrino of Georgetown University.  [Each President has the right to appoint his own Council.]

But according to Reid Cherlin, a White House press officer, the Council under Bush was “a philosophically leaning advisory group” that favored debate over developing a shared consensus.  The new bioethics commission will have a new mandate that “offers practical policy options,” Cherlin told the New York Times.  [If i is not to present alternate positions to the President… how will it function?  Do you suppose the "unreasonable" view will be excluded from the consensus building when crafting a recommendation?  Sure, have the "dissenting" voices, but then marginalize them.  You appear to take them seriously while rendering them ineffective.]

But Robert George, a professor of the Philosophy of Law and one of the current Council members, is not convinced by Obama’s talk of a more practical Council.

“I don’t think Obama has any intention of appointing a commission that is more practical,” George said.  “He intends to appoint a commission that is more uniformly liberal than philosophically diverse.” 

George explained the Council of Bioethics under Bush was the most philosophically and politically diverse council ever created by a president.  Of 18 members, half did not share the Bush’s convictions, and six were not even his political supporters, George told CNA.

“Bush was falsely accused of stacking the Council with religious conservatives, but really, he did not stack it at all,” George said.  “It was incredibly diverse and that allowed the best possible contributions to be made.”

Now, George believes that Obama is doing what Bush was falsely accused of doing.  “I believe his Council will have no substantial dissenting voice. There will be few, if any, members who do not support the president politically.”

Asked about the Obama administration’s claim that the Council under Bush spent more time debating than developing a shared consensus, George responded that debate is a key step in reaching an agreement, and that the only way to avoid substantial debate would be to have a Council filled with members that already agree on the issues from the beginning, one in which “no dissenting voices are allowed to be heard.”  [Yep.]

Prof. George speculated that Obama will proceed to appoint a liberal Council, confirming his real motives. “They’re not interested in a Council that reaches its own conclusions, just one that supports Obama,” he asserted.

“I think the new Council will likely function as a rubber stamp to support Obama’s agenda."  [Good guess.]

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Rancher says:

    Another of his Czars (though this one has multiple members, not just one individual) accountable only to him. I pray for his conversion though to do so is difficult as he represents so much that is evil.

  2. EJ says:

    … and perhaps Kmiec, Sotomayor, Doug Kmiec and Fathers Jenkins and Thomas Reese will be invited on the commission to provide the Catholic perspective on bioethics? LOL

  3. mpm says:

    I presume this Commission will present the President with the fore-ordained
    conclusions necessary for a man who is not of the “pay grade” needed to make

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  4. Virgil says:

    Background? What did Bush’s Council accomplish? (or not accomplish?) What is Obama giving as a task to his Commission? Will they be able to accomplish things that Bush’s was not?

    I had heard that the GWB Council was dominated by the looney Evangelical wing, but Pellegrino’s presence as Chair would have tempered that. Perhaps that is what CNA means by “philosophic leaning?”

    Nonetheless, with the new President’s desire to see universal health care in the US, his Commision will be important. I don’t think it’s a matter of “liberal” and “conservative.” It’s about making sure that any proposed plans for more and better health care are the best they can be.

    Likewise, the President’s desire to see fewer abortions. We all know the ethical can of worms in that one! If criminalization of abortion cannot be accomplished, what can be done? Is it ethical to make policy decisions that reduce abortion, even if it means that abortion remains legal?

  5. JohnE says:

    So what was the purpose of the Council as opposed to the new Commission? The Council debated issues so that the President could review the debates and use that to determine how to set policy? And what would the new commission do? Come to a consensus and then advise the President as to how to set policy, which he can either act on or ignore? I do not understand what he is doing if he indeed stacks this commission with people who have the same views he already holds. Is it just a support body to provide more convincing arguments for embryonic stem cell research and other unethical practices than he can come up with himself? Setting up an intellectual authority or scapegoat he can point to?

  6. ED says:

    Ethics and Obama dont go together.

  7. Make me a Spark says:

    Well he still has a lot of friends at Planned Parenthood that he needs to pay back for their support. And there is that Tony Rezko money out there, we don’t know what he owes for the house deal…..

  8. Fidelius says:

    Ah well, he’ll just appoint dissenting Catholics, claim the Council then has the Catholic imprimatur, thereby define mainstream Catholicism *as* this dissent, and thus be able to do what he and his extremist pals really want: to establish the foundations of a dreamboat socialist paradise, where there are no credible opponents to the regime. If you think this is a wild conspiratorial fantasy, you aren’t paying close enough attention.

  9. P. McGrath says:

    Breaking news about Obama: Rocco has just reported that The Holy Father and The Wun will meet next month, according to Catholic News Service.

    This is a disaster of the first order. Why? Because there will be pictures taken of the two of them together, and those pictures, by themselves, will graphically symbolize the Holy Father’s approval of The Wun’s policy of unlimited babykilling.

    In other words, this will be FAR WORSE than the Notre Shame fiasco.

    UNLESS the Holy Father “gets all up in his face” and really Preaches It to The Wun. IN PUBLIC. Private remarks don’t count. Neither does diplomatic nice-talk like “the two sides had a frank and forthright discussion of current disagreements.” Not gonna work. Meaningliess.

    It needs to be something like, “Your policy of unlimited babykilling, Mr. Obama, is the epitome of the Reign of Evil. Repent now, or you will be show in the next life the same mercy you showed to fifty million unborn dead, and counting.”

    The words have to out-flood the graphic symbolism of the two of them together; if they don’t, the Wun has won.

    Remember how the Vatican prevented any pictures of the Pelosi visit earlier this year? The Secretariat of State was supposed to PREVENT this meeting from happening — what happened?

  10. EDG says:

    P McGrath:
    Obama meeting the Pope isn’t at all like ND. The Pope meets with any and all world leaders who pass through Rome…if they request it. I read a couple of months ago that Obama’s handlers wanted to arrange a meeting with the Pope, but they were annoyed because they hadn’t received an “invitation” from the Vatican. The Vatican responded that no request had been made.

    Bambi is such a dim bulb – and his handlers are so anti-Catholic or just plain dumb – that they didn’t realize they were the ones who had to make the request. Obviously, they have done so, the Pope is going to be in town that weekend, and this is just a routine meeting (which I’m sure the Pope will use effectively).

  11. Eamonn says:

    It seems that Obama’s Bioethics Council will exist solely to advise “the one”. President Bush appointed a council which had a public education mission as well. In other words, they were there to advise POTUS but also to generate debate and critical thinking on bioethical issues among the American people at large. Their report “Human Dignity and Bioethics” is very good indeed, with everyone from Robert George and Richard John Neuhaus (RIP) to Patricia Churchland and Daniel Dennett represented in it. Top level debate from first class thinkers.

  12. John Enright says:

    Another stacked deck. So much for transparency and accountability in government.

  13. Steve K. says:

    P. McGrath –

    Given that the meeting is with one of the most important political leaders in the world, I am sure the Holy Father wasn’t snookered into this somehow and knows exactly what he is doing. In fact I am sure he knows what he is doing more than you know what he is doing, it is intemperate for you to dictate the Holy Father’s handling of the meeting. Have more faith in the Vicar of Christ, please.

  14. Steve K. says:

    Yargh, that is getting down the rabbit hole. Please forgive me, Fr. Z.

    Anyway, I am hardly surprised the President would replace the current council with his own men, and of course none of us should be surprised that the new council is going to proclaim the culture of death. I wish instead he had just disbanded it and replaced it in nothing, appointing a new council compounds the injury with insult. I can hardly wait to hear the lies the council is going to publish…

  15. Philip-Michael says:

    watch…he is going to appoint a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia “catholic theologian” which will cause another round of stir and a slap to the face of real Catholics.

  16. Mark VA says:

    I nominate the spirit of Potemkin to be the guiding light of the new Council on Bioethics. He certainly knew how to achieve predetermined outcomes.

  17. Peggy says:

    Is there anything this man does that is NOT alarming?

    We know his bioethics. He regretted his vote to help Terri Schiavo. He claims to care more about the US constitution, which he now tramples upon daily, than about saving the life of Terri Schiavo, or at least giving her a fair shot before a fair judge. Is that really too much to ask?

    We see his lack of concern for human life again in his detached statements about the protest in Iran. Even his stronger statements from yesterday do not contain any (genuine) outrage and regard for human life, not to mention liberty. He likes to point out “I am the president. I won.” But he can’t put any personal passion for life or freedom into his voice. Some “soaring rhetoric”!

  18. j says:


    That is the difference between GW and BO. GW understands the RESPONSIBILITY of the Office. He had a Council to represent all viewpoints, have a robust debate, inform the public and give him a diversity of views, but then understood that HE as President must make all decisions, that’s his job.

    BO wants to skew bias and pervert the process of input, excluding any voice but his own, and have the Council make a decision, which he can then “follow”, taking credit if it works and spreading blame if it comes, or blunt it as coming from experts. Mirrors the Alinsky playbook of demonizing opponents through surrogates, for deniability.

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