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Americans United for Life: Obama’s Disbanding Bioethics Council Raises Troubling Questions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 19, 2009
Washington, DC — Americans United for Life (AUL) criticized President Obama’s recent decision to disband the President’s Council on Bioethics and replace it with a new bioethics commission having a mandate to offer “practical policy options.”

The President’s Council on Bioethics was created in November 2001 by President Bush after his decision to allow human embryonic stem-cell research for the first time while limiting the research to existing cell lines.

“Why try to fix something that wasn’t broken?” said AUL’s President & CEO Charmaine Yoest.

Daniel McConchie, AUL Vice President of Government Affairs said, “This was the most balanced bioethics council in history with two leaders, Leon Kass and Edmund Pellegrino, who went out of their way to ensure the council was reflective of all the major perspectives on the issues,” he said. “We have to ask why the President has disbanded this effective and well-regarded council. Is this a move toward a council that is more of a rubber stamp of his administration’s priorities, rather than a group that actively debates current issues with all perspectives having a seat at the table?”

AUL Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe said it was “a shame” that the council was dismissed. “The council leaves a rich legacy of reflection on the ethical and legal aspects of the most important questions of biomedicine and biotechnology facing the country. But despite the council’s balance — or perhaps because of it — many liberals and libertarians never appreciated the important books and reports published by the Council. When it conducted wide-ranging discussions of important bioethical issues, they dismissed it as a ‘debating society.’ And when, after such discussions, they issued policy recommendations, they dismissed it as ‘political.’”

About Americans United for Life
Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law.  The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971.  The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS’ Frontline program chronicled AUL’s successful efforts in Mississippi.