WASHINGTON – Hoping to reduce the struggles associated with the difficult issues of human cloning and stem cell research among others, President Bush is ready to name his team of counselors on bioethics, according to techcentralstation.com.
Bush will make the announcement Wednesday, the culmination of months of consideration by Bush's chief of bioethics, Leon Kass, who made the recommendations to Bush. Kass was named to head the President's Council on Bioethics last August when the president elected to allow federal funding on limited embryonic stem cell research.
Kass, a professor at the University of Chicago and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, will head up the first meeting of the group, expected to take place on Thursday or Friday.
A graduate of the University of Chicago School of Medicine and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Harvard University, Kass opposes human cloning and has some biotechnology supporters worried that he will too heavily structure the committee to reflect his views.
But Gary Schmidt, executive director of the Project for New American Century, a Washington-based think tank that does not support cloning and only supports stem cell research on existing cell lines for research, said the panel was a group of fair-minded individuals, whatever their personal beliefs on the issue.
"I think the group is, without question, intellectually serious. I think people are going to be very hard-pressed to find that that these folks don't bring to the table a great deal of capital and moral seriousness," he said.
As for Kass, he said, "I don't know how anybody who has read any of his works could object to either his scientific or his ethical approach as being anything less than of the highest order."
"No one could reject him as a simple partisan," Schmidt added.
Kass' first pick is James Q. Wilson, an emeritus professor at UCLA and former head of the American Political Science Association and the American Sociological Association. Wilson and Kass co-authored the book The Ethics of Human Cloning, which opposes cloning.
Also on the partial list of names are:
— Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University who calls stem cell research "grotesquely immoral."
— Charles Krauthammer, a nationally syndicated columnist and a psychiatrist who supports stem cell research but also has called for Kass to be named surgeon general.
— Francis Fukuyama, a professor of political economics at George Mason University and a strong supporter of regulating biotechnology.
— Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, a professor of metaphysics and moral philosophy at Georgetown University, who has not readily made public his views on cloning and stem cells.