Barack Obama Establishes New Presidential Bioethics Council, Could Push Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barack Obama Establishes New Presidential Bioethics Council, Could Push Cloning

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 1
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — President Barack Obama has established a new presidential bioethics council that may feature advisors who could push his decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research even further. They could advise Obama that his administration should push human cloning.

Last week, under the cover of the dearth of news given the Thanksgiving holiday, Obama signed an executive order to create the new council.

Obama created the Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and named Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, to serve as its chair and James W. Wagner, president of Emory University, as vice-chair.

Dr. David Prentice, a former science professor at Indiana State University who is now a fellow at the Family Research Council, talked with last week about the new council.

"The previous President’s Council on Bioethics was terminated before its time by President Obama back in June. Its charter was scheduled to expire in September, and there was some thought it was booted early to clear the deck for a new bioethics group aligned with the president," he said.

Prentice said Obama likely canceled the Bush council because it disagree with his ordering taxpayers to fund embryonic research that involves the destruction of human life.

"Seems likely the old bioethics council was just giving contrary signals to the President (10 of the 18 members criticized the President after his March 9 speech where he opened the possibility of using more human embryos for research, including creating cloned human embryos for experiments," he explained.

"Finally, well after the old council’s term would have expired, we now have the announcement [of the new council]," Prentice added.

Although the announcement was made a week ago, it was not printed in the Federal Register until Monday, and the printing makes it official.

Prentice noticed that the order names the chair and vice-chairman of the council but does not name the other members of the commission.

He also points out the order could allow Obama to stack the panel in favor of his pro-ESCR view as it states that “at least one and not more than three of whom may be bioethicists or scientists drawn from the executive branch, as designated by the President.”

"So, there is a chance to seed the commission with like-minded folks," Prentice said in response.

"It will be interesting to see the final composition of this new presidential bioethics group, and whether they can live up to the openness, education of the public, and representation of diverse views seen with the last bioethics council. If not, it will just be a rubber stamp for presidential policies," Prentice concludes.

Time will tell whether Obama’s bioethics council will give him the political cover and apparent scientific support he needs to move from embryonic stem cell research to human cloning.

Currently, his order to require ESCR funding faces two lawsuits that contend the Obama order to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a federal law that prohibits federal funding of scientific studies that destroy human life.

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