Bioethics News

Interview: “Democratic deliberation” and bioethics

With an election round the corner, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is coming to the end of its term. The Commission recently released its final report, entitled Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science and Technology. The report discusses the complexities bioethical decision-making in an age of deep ideological disagreements and rapid biomedical progress. The Commission members are optimistic, suggesting that agreement can be reached on substantive bioethical policy matters through processes of “democratic deliberation”. The report proposes an ambitious educational program to improve the bioethical literacy of the public, and also outlines a series of civic virtues that policy stakeholders should adopt when debating ethical issues.

Last week Xavier Symons, of BioEdge, conducted an email interview with Col. Nelson L. Michael, MD, PhD, about the report and the future of bioethics in the United States. Col. Michael is a PCSBI member, and also Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. 

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BioEdge: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the likely candidates for the Presidency. Will the Commission continuing to function under a new administration?

Nelson Michael: From 1974-1994, national bioethics bodies in the US were established by Congress. Since the mid-1990s, each of the last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, has established bioethics commissions to explore ethical issues in science, medicine, and technology. President Barack Obama created the current commission by Executive Order in November 2009. This Commission’s tenure will end when the next President is inaugurated.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.