Countering the Council of Clones

February 8, 2002 | Source: KurzweilAI

Extropy Institute has issued a statement that it agrees with prominent bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan about the “disturbing composition” of the recently formed President’s Council on Bioethics. In an opinion piece on the MSNBC site, Caplan characterized the new body as a “Council of Clones” that will provide president Bush “the advice he wants to hear.”
“Marching in lock step with Kass, his cognitive clones are heavily biased toward religious and conservative views,” said the Extropy Institute statement. “Deeply conservative thinker Leon Kass’s assembled group is designed to rubber stamp opposition to vital biotechnological advances. Kass himself goes so far as to oppose in vitro fertilization, a standard medical procedure benefiting families for almost one quarter of a century.

“The value of stem cells, therapeutic cloning, tissue engineering and related technologies is that these technologies can help millions of people around the world by preventing and curing Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and by repairing organs such as the kidneys. Many bioethicists disagree with Kass, and he has put them on the defensive, making them almost apologetic for defending the technologies of life and health.

“Extropy Institute responds more boldly by stressing the moral urgency of carefully but strongly developing these technologies to help relieve suffering, cure disease and enable every human being to their full potential. To this end, Extropy Institute is building on its current Council of Advisors to form an alternative proactive biotech-friendly network.”

The administration’s bioethics council has almost no bioethicists on it, pointed out Caplan, who heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “Plenty of theologians and theologically oriented scholars, a smattering of scientists and doctors but, hardly anyone drawn from the ranks of bioethics.”