President Bush´s Order Creating Bioethics Council

In the Wake of Human Cloning Announcement

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 30, 2001 ( Days after declaring a U.S. company´s cloning of a human embryo «morally wrong,» President George W. Bush signed an executive order creating a White House Council on Bioethics.

The 18-member panel, chaired by Dr. Leon Kass, a biomedical ethics expert from the University of Chicago, was expected to be in place by year-end. Here is the text of the White House statement announcing the council.

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
November 28, 2001

Executive Order: Creation of the President´s Council on Bioethics
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment. There is established the President´s Council on Bioethics (the «Council»).

Sec. 2. Mission.

(a) The Council shall advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology. In connection with its advisory role, the mission of the Council includes the following functions:

(1) to undertake fundamental inquiry into the human and moral significance of developments in biomedical and behavioral science and technology;

(2) to explore specific ethical and policy questions related to these developments;

(3) to provide a forum for a national discussion of bioethical issues;

(4) to facilitate a greater understanding of bioethical issues; and

(5) to explore possibilities for useful international collaboration on bioethical issues.

(b) In support of its mission, the Council may study ethical issues connected with specific technological activities, such as 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. The Council may also study broader ethical and social issues not tied to a specific technology, such as questions regarding the protection of human subjects in research, the appropriate uses of biomedical technologies, the moral implications of biomedical technologies, and the consequences of limiting scientific research.

(c) The Council shall strive to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of the issues that it considers. In pursuit of this goal, the Council shall be guided by the need to articulate fully the complex and often competing moral positions on any given issue, rather than by an overriding concern to find consensus. The Council may therefore choose to proceed by offering a variety of views on a particular issue, rather than attempt to reach a single consensus position.

(d) The Council shall not be responsible for the review and approval of specific projects or for devising and overseeing regulations for specific government agencies.

(e) In support of its mission, the Council may accept suggestions of issues for consideration from the heads of other Government agencies and other sources, as it deems appropriate.

(f) In establishing priorities for its activities, the Council shall consider the urgency and gravity of the particular issue; the need for policy guidance and public education on the particular issue; the connection of the bioethical issue to the goal of Federal advancement of science and technology; and the existence of another entity available to deliberate appropriately on the bioethical issue.

Sec. 3. Membership.

(a) The Council shall be composed of not more than 18 members appointed by the President from among individuals who are not officers or employees of the Federal Government. The Council shall include members drawn from the fields of science and medicine, law and government, philosophy and theology, and other areas of the humanities and social sciences.

(b) The President shall designate a member of the Council to serve as Chairperson.

(c) The term of office of a member shall be 2 years, and members shall be eligible for reappointment. Members may continue to serve after the expiration of their terms until the President appoints a successor. A member appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired term of such vacancy.

Sec. 4. Administration.

(a) Upon the request of the Chairperson, the heads of executive departments and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide the Council with information it needs for purposes of carrying out its functions.

(b) The Council may conduct inquiries, hold hearings, and establish subcommittees, as necessary.

(c) The Council is authorized to conduct analyses and develop reports or other materials.

(d) Members of the Council may be compensated to the extent permitted by Federal law for their work on the Council. Members may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law for persons serving intermittently in Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), to the extent funds are available.

(e) To the extent permitted by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Department of Health and Human Services shall provide the Council with administrative support and with such funds as may be necessary for the performance of the Council´s functions.

(f) The Council shall have a staff headed by an Executive Director, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Chairperson. To the extent permitted by law, office space, analytical support, and additional staff support for the Council shall be provided by the Department of Health and Human Services or other executive branch departments and agencies as directed by the President.

Sec. 5. General Provisions.

(a) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), may apply to the Council, any functions of the President under that Act, except that of reporting to the Congress, shall be performed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Administrator of General Services.

(b) The Council shall terminate 2 years from the date of this order unless extended by the President prior to that date.

(c) This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and it is not intended to create any right, benefit, trust, or responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.

George W. Bush
The White House
November 28, 2001

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