Prez Stacks Bioethics Council Further


On Friday, the White House fired two panel members of the President's Council on Bioethics. The two fired panel members are University of California San Francisco researcher Elizabeth Blackburn and bioethicist William May. Why were they let go? Perhaps because they were two of the seven Council members who favored proceeding immediately with cloning research to create human embryonic stem cells. From the executive summary of the Council's cloning report:

Permitting cloning-for-biomedical-research now, while governing it through a prudent and sensible regulatory regime, is the most appropriate way to allow important research to proceed while insuring that abuses are prevented. We believe that the legitimate concerns about human cloning expressed throughout this report are sufficiently addressed by this ban-plus-regulation proposal, and that the nation should affirm and support the responsible effort to find treatments and cures that might help many who are suffering.

This position is supported by Council Members Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Daniel W. Foster, Michael S. Gazzaniga, William F. May, Janet D. Rowley, Michael J. Sandel, and James Q. Wilson.

Firing them seems a bit petty, since the other ten panel members favored Council Chairman Leon Kass' proposal to impose a four year moratorium on such research. Apparently, the White House and Kass would like a bigger margin on future votes, say 13 to 5, since Blackburn and May were replaced by three new members who apparently oppose a lot of biotechnology research.