Bush Appoints More Pro-Life Bioethics Council Members, Kerry Criticizes

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Appoints More Pro-Life Bioethics Council Members, Kerry Criticizes

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 1, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Bush has removed two members from his bioethics council who had been among the more outspoken advocates of destructive embryonic stem cell research. In their place, Bush has appointed three new members — all of whom take a more pro-life view regarding the controversial research that destroys human embryos for their stem cells.

The changes immediately drew opposition from pro-abortion presidential candidate John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.

Elizabeth Blackburn, a biologist at the University of California at San Francisco, said she received a call from the White House personnel office on Friday informing her that she would be dismissed.

She accused Bush of "stacking the council with the compliant," and said she received no warning either from the Bush administration or Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the Council on Bioethics, whose views are closer to Bush’s than Blackburn’s.

William May, a professor of ethics emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is the other member of the panel who was let go.

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy told the Washington Post that the two members were let go from the council because their terms had expired and they were on "holdover status." The terms of all of the members expired in January, and all but May and Blackburn were retained.

"We decided to appoint other individuals at this point with different experience and expertise," she told Reuters.

The three new appointees are Benjamin Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University; Diana Schaub, chairman of the department of political science at Loyola College in Maryland; and Peter Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College in Georgia.

According to the Washington Post, the three will have an easier time meshing with the council and President Bush when it comes to opposing human cloning or research that destroys human life.

When not performing some of the most difficult surgeries in the world, such as helping conjoined twins, Carson is a speaker who is noted for his strong Christian views.

Schaub has praised Kass’ views in opposition to unethical scientific practices and has called embryonic stem cell research "the evil of the willful destruction of innocent human life."

Lawler has spoken out against embryonic stem cell research and, according to the Post, wrote an article in which he warned that if the United States does not soon "become clear as a nation that abortion is wrong," then women will eventually be compelled to abort genetically defective babies.

The changes drew criticism from Kerry.

"A scientific panel ought to be chosen on the basis of science and on the basis of reputation, not politics," Kerry said, according to the Associated Press. "I think that is the wrong thing to do when a country is searching for its appropriate scientific policy. We deserve to have people whose reputations and abilities are not tarnished and are not focused by politics or religion."

Bush created the council by executive order in 2001 to "advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology." He recently renewed its commission for another two years.

The council has issued reports on issues such as human cloning and embryonic stem cell research but has found it difficult to come to an agreement on many issues.

Related web sites:
President’s Council on Bioethics: https://bioethics.gov/background/bpprecommend.html