Friday, January 23, 2009

The Near Future of Bioethics

The future of bioethical policy is an important issue. What will become of frozen embryos? What will our government fund when it comes to the creation, cloning, and destruction of human embryos? How fungible is human nature, and is it subject to almost limitless experimentation? These and so many other (even seemingly outlandish questions) are up for grabs with a change in the White House.

The President’s Council on Bioethics was a diverse group of very well informed and respected people who hashed out several conclusions which were not exactly received with praise in the legacy media. In fact, it seems the legacy media crowd even did their math wrong and based many of their criticisms on their faulty conclusions. A former member, Robert George, reflects on the Council and the media’s typical perception of it:

In 2002, when George W. Bush announced the names of his appointees to the President’s Council on Bioethics, there were liberal bioethicists who complained that the President had “stacked” the council with “religious conservatives” who shared his views on questions of embryonic stem cell research and “therapeutic cloning.” More than a few media outlets reported this claim as if it were a fact. It was, however, a spectacular falsehood.

And further:

The Bush council included six members (Michael Sandel, Janet Rowley, William F. May, James Q. Wilson, Michael Gazzaniga, and Elizabeth Blackburn) who favored the production of human embryos for biomedical research in which they would be destroyed in the effort to obtain pluripotent stem cells. At least three additional members (Paul McHugh, Rebecca Dresser, and Francis Fukuyama) were not in principle opposed to “therapeutic cloning,” though they were willing to support a four year moratorium on the practice in the hope alternatives not involving cloning could be developed. At least one additional member (Charles Krauthammer), though opposed to the deliberate creation by cloning of embryos for research in which they would be destroyed, supported the revocation of President Bush’s funding restrictions on the use of embryos that had been produced by in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes, but were left unused in cryopreservation units in assisted reproduction facilities.

George goes on to ask if we will see the same kind of intellectual diversity on the next Council. If not, it does not take a genius to predict what kinds of conclusions the new Council will come to.

-The right to abortion will be declared to be unbounded and will be funded.

-Embryonic stem cell research will be funded and pressed forward regardless of the utter lack of real-world results.

-Therapeutic cloning will be encouraged to the point of allowing the creation of human embryos for destructive and cloning purposes.

We may not need to hold our breath, but we need to be alert to what may come down the pipe.


Suzanne said...

What kind of nation endorses and even encourages decisions like this and what will become of us?

Thanks for being willing to tell it like it really is. At our church leadership meeting today, our pastor asked us to pray for a fellow congregation in our small groups. Our group prayed for you and your church.

Phil Steiger said...

Thanks for your prayers - I greatly appreciate them. And thanks for letting me know!