Donald Trump was elected President of the United States this week on a platform of “change”, but it’s unlikely that bioethics figures prominently in his agenda. No remotely bioethical issues are listed in the 100-day plan Trump’s campaign released in October, “Donald Trump’s Contract With The American Voter.” We have to read the tea leaves, and like most tea cups, the future they tell is cloudy.
Most people working in the science, medicine and bioethics are probably unhappy with the prospect of President Trump. The American Physical Society (APS) was forced to retract a press release that urged President-elect Donald Trump to “Make America Great Again” by strengthening “scientific leadership.” One scientist tweeted “why not just go with ‘Physicists for fascism’ and be done with it?”
More measured responses came from Jonathan Moreno, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Art Caplan, of New York University’s Langone Medical Center, both scholars with enormous experience in the intersection of bioethics and politics.
Moreno points out that recent Presidents have appointed bioethics commissions to advise them on controversial issues. If Trump follows their lead, former Presidential hopeful Dr Ben Carson will probably play a role as he was a member of President George W. Bush’s commission. He is strongly pro-life, as is Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, who is in charge of the transition team. They might oppose developments in the rapidly evolving field of genetic engineering.
However, Trump is broadly opposed to government regulation, so his Administration might not want to ban research if it gave other countries a competitive edge.
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.