Intended for healthcare professionals


Has the President's Council on Bioethics missed the boat?

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 11 September 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:629
  1. Leigh Turner (, assistant professor
  1. Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill University, Montreal

    When George W Bush established the President's Council on Bioethics in 2001, sceptics insisted that it was laden with “conservative” scholars who were unlikely to engage in wide ranging, non-partisan ethical debate. I want to sidestep the question of whether the forensic table at the council tilts to the Republican right rather than the Democratic left. Instead I want to criticise the council's purpose and substantive contribution.

    A council on bioethics ought to address core social questions

    According to presidential executive order 13237, “the Council shall advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology.” Specific biomedical technologies noted in the council's mission statement include “embryo and stem cell research, assisted reproduction, cloning, uses of knowledge and techniques derived from human genetics or the neurosciences, and end of life issues.” …

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