Bioethics & Dignity
A Q&A with Gilbert Meilaender
In June of 2009 the Obama White House announced that the services of the President’s Council on Bioethics would no longer be needed. President George W. Bush had established the council to promote public discussion of bioethical issues in the wake of the controversy over his 2001 policy limiting federal funding for stem-cell research to existing cell lines. The Obama administration apparently wanted an advisory body that was a little more “practical.” A White House spokesman said, according to the New York Times, that the problem with the old council was that it “favored discussion over developing a shared consensus.” In other words, it favored thinking through issues instead of pushing agendas.
In late November 2009, Obama signed an executive order creating a new council, called the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. He 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.
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Les Sillars teaches journalism at Patrick Henry College and is on staff at WORLD magazine; his first book, Intended for Evil: A Survivor's Story of Love, Faith, and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields, was released by Baker in 2016.
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