Bush Appoints Pro-life Scholars to Bioethics Council

According to, on Wednesday, March 02, a group of 170 scholars, researchers and physicians signed an open letter to President Bush criticizing him for adding three members to his Council on Bioethics who oppose human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

Bush appointed 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. Carson, particularly, is a speaker who is known for his strong Christian views.

While pro-life looks at human cloning and embryonic stem cell research as unethical, pro-choice sees that it’s needed to cure various diseases.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, chair of the Department of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote the letter, criticizing that Bush's council now "lacks credibility as a forum."

"The creation of sound public policy with respect to developments in medicine and the life sciences requires a council that has a diverse set of views and possibilities," Caplan wrote. "By dismissing those two individuals and appointing new members whose views are likely to closely reflect those of the majority of the council and its chair, the credibility of the council is severely compromised."

But Dr. Leon Kass, a University of Chicago ethicist and chair of the council, defended Bush's stance in an editorial he wrote for the Washington Post on Wednesday.

"Even before the President's Council on Bioethics had its first meeting in January 2002, charges were flying that the council was stacked with political and religious conservatives, appointed to rubber-stamp the president's moral and political views," Kass wrote. "One newspaper story on the day of our first meeting even went so far as to compare us to the Taliban."

"Unfortunately, these membership changes were met with unfounded and false charges of political 'stacking' of the council," Kass added. "Such charges are as bogus today as they were when the council was formed."

Kass said removing two of the members has less to do with ideology and more to do with "the changing focus of the council's work, as we move away from issues of reproduction and genetics to focus on issues of neuroscience, brain and behavior."

Schaub also opposed to embryonic stem cell research calling it "the evil of the willful destruction of innocent human life."

Lawler has spoken out against embryonic stem cell research and he warned that if the United States does not soon "become clear as a nation that abortion is wrong," then women will eventually give birth to genetically defective babies, the Washington Post reported.

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