Bioethics Blogs

Presenters Reflect on National Bioethics Advisory Bodies

In the second session of the day, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) heard from a series of speakers reflecting on the past, present, and future impact of national bioethics advisory bodies. Presenters included Robert Cook-Deegan, Professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University; Alexander M. Capron, Scott H. Bice Chair in Healthcare, Law, Policy and Ethics; Thomas H. Murray, President Emeritus of the Hastings Center; and Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Robert Cook-Deegan served on as a member of the Biomedical Ethical Advisory Committee (1987-1990). He observed that the position of the Biomedical Ethical Advisory Committee in Congress as opposed to the executive branch might have contributed to its failure. He noted that an important goal of bioethics commissions should be political impact—for example, the President’s Commission in its Defining Death report influenced state laws. “If a Commission is sanctioned by the US government…there should be something that connects it to the political apparatus, there should be something that you’re doing that matters.”

Alexander M. Capron previously spoke before the Bioethics Commission in 2010 during Meeting 2 regarding the oversight of emerging technologies. Today, he reflected on his time on Chair of the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee (1987-1990), and as a member of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1995-2001). He emphasized that our Commission has set a good example, showing the ways in which ethical issues move from the research stage to the impact in clinical practice and society.

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.