Bush Dismisses Members From Bioethics Council

From Times Wire Services

President Bush on Friday dismissed two members of his Council on Bioethics -- a scientist and a moral philosopher who had been among the more outspoken advocates for research on human embryo cells.

In their places he appointed three new members, including a doctor who has called for more religion in public life, a political scientist who has spoken out against the research that the dismissed members supported, and another who has written about the immorality of abortion and the “threats of biotechnology.”

The turnover immediately renewed charges by scientists and others that Bush is increasingly allowing politics to trump science as he seeks advice on ethically contentious issues.

Some in Congress, led by Rep. Henry D. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), have been vocal on the topic, as have academics, scientific organizations and science journal editors.

One of the dismissed members, Elizabeth Blackburn, is a renowned biologist at UC San Francisco. Blackburn said she received a call Friday from a person in the White House personnel office.


“He said the White House had decided to make some changes on the council,” Blackburn said.

The other dismissed member, William May, a professor of ethics emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, could not be reached for comment.

Asked why Blackburn and May had been let go, White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the two members’ terms had expired in January, and they were on “holdover status.”

The three new appointees are Benjamin Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University; Diana Schaub, chairman of the department of political science at Loyola College in Maryland; and Peter Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College in Georgia.