Requiem for the President’s Council on Bioethics

christian_new.jpgTwo weeks ago President Obama sent a memo to the members of the President’s Council on Bioethics (PCB) [1] informing them that their appointments were being prematurely terminated.  Impatient to nominate his own slate, Obama decided the September 2009 expiry date of their present term was too long to wait. 

An advisory commission such as the PCB serves at the pleasure of the sitting president.  Since the members whom he served notice were all Bush appointees, Obama’s move was unsurprising.  It is however a further indication of the direction the new administration is taking public moral discourse. Read

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PRIMER ON BIOETHICS: Part I of II

130907_master_bioetica_0708_-_th.jpgThe term “bioethics” is of recent coinage. The first to use it was Van Rensselaer of the University of Wisconsin in the late 1960’s, an oncologist who used it in an evolutionary sense somewhat distant from the sense it has acquired. Warren T. Reich, one of the original professors at what was then called the “The Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and Bioethics” at Georgetown University and editor of the first edition of the 4 volume Encyclopedia of Bioethics, credits André Hellegers, the Dutch obstetrician/fetal physiologist/demographer who founded the Kennedy Institute at Georgetown University as the one “who used the term to apply to the ethics of medicine and the biological sciences in such a way that the name caught on in academic circles and in the mind of the public. He did this initially by seeing to it that the word bioethics appeared in the original name of the Kennedy Institute at its founding in 1971: The Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and Bioethics” (see Reich’s essay, “How Bioethics Got Its Name” in The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 23, 1993). Read

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Summary and Reflections on DIGNITAS PERSONAE

william_e_may.jpgSeptember 8, 2008 is the official date of a new doctrinal document prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and approved by Pope Benedict XVI on bioethical issues.  It is a sequel to the CDF’s February 1987 doctrinal Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origins and on the Dignity of Procreation (Latin title Donum vitae). Dignitas Personae (henceforth DP), formally released for publication on December 12, 2008, is of a doctrinal nature and falls within the category of documents that "participate in the ordinary Magisterium of the successor of Peter" (see Instruction Donum veritatis, no.18), and is to be received by Catholics "with the religious assent of their spirit" (DP, no. 37).

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On the facts, money and future of the embryo for 2008

Image"I’m talking about embryo destructive experimentation.  The imminent danger is not that scientists will begin to create and destroy human embryos.  That’s been going on for a long time, as had abortion in the U.S. before 1973… The problem is rather the institutionalization of the creation of human life for destructive purposes funded by the federal government."   Read

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