Being Human: Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics

Daniel writes "An announcement for "Being Human: Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics" is available. According to the press release "It contains 95 selections from sources as wide-ranging as Homer, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, American folk songs, contemporary fiction and poetry, and even a screenplay. Each selection is accompanied by an introduction that directs readers toward its bioethical implications, and provides questions for groups reading together or individuals studying alone."It will be distributed to all 1043 Federal Depository Libraries. I've heard that it may not be available on-line owing to the copyrighted nature of some of the readings.Looks like it will be a helpful addition to libraries interested in hot issues of bioethics."


I wouldn't trust that report any more than I would trust unsubstantiated rumours of business dealings. Especially in light of the Bush administration's ultra-conservatism. I'll simply assume that this so called bioethics report is a load of self-righteous claptrap, until I decide otherwise, thank you very much. Christian TalibanBy Stephen Pizzo, AlterNetMarch 28, 2004During the Taliban rule of Afghanistan the world got a good look at whathappens when religious zealots gain control of a government. Televisionimages of women being beaten forced to wear burkas and banned from schoolsand the workplace helped build strong public support for the President'sdecision to invade Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.But even as President George W. Bush denounced the brutal Islamicfundamentalist regime in Kabul, he was quietly laying the foundations forhis own fundamentalist regime at home. For the first time far rightChristian fundamentalists had one of their own in the White House and theopportunity to begin rolling back decades of health and family planningprograms they saw as un-Christian, if not downright sinful.Since 2001 dozens of far-right Christian fundamentalists have been quietlyinstalled in key positions within the Department of Health and HumanServices, the Federal Drug Administration and on commissions and advisorycommittees where they have made serious progress. Three years later thisadministration has established one of the most rigid sexual health agendasin the Western world.It began immediately. One of George W. Bush's first acts as president wasto issue an executive memorandum reinstating a global abortion "gag rule."The rule was first implemented under Ronald Reagan but revoked during thetwo Clinton administrations. The rule prohibited federally funded familyplanning providers from even discussing abortion with their clients.Bush's order reflected the views of those at farthest reaches of theChristian right, zealots who saw any means by which women controlledreproduction as unbiblical:"I would like to outlaw contraception...contraception is disgusting –people using each other for pleasure." -Joseph Scheidler, Pro-Life ActionLeague"I don't think Christians should use birth control. You consummate yourmarriage as often as you like – and if you have babies, you have babies."Randall Terry, Operation RescueOver the next twelve months the administration moved quickly to installsimilarly-minded Christian fundamentalists to positions of authority andinfluence over all matters relating to reproductive and sexual health.Dr. Alma Golden: appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of PopulationAffairs. A Texas pediatrician, she is a longtime proponent of abstinenceas the only acceptable means of birth control. Dr. Golden declared thathenceforth the department would stress "abstinence-only" as the solutionto unwanted pregnancies, not just for teens, but unmarried adults as well.Tom Coburn: Former Republican congressman and anti-condom crusader.Appointed co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.While in congress Coburn tried to force condom manufacturers to labelcondoms as "ineffective" against the spread of sexually transmittedinfections. "I will challenge the national focus on condom use to preventthe spread of HIV," Coburn said upon his appointment.Dr. Joseph McIlhaney, Jr.: Appointed to Coburn on the HIV and AIDSadvisory council. McIlhaney has a long and well-documented history ofdisseminating misleading data on condom failure rates. He was appointed inspite of the fact that in 1995 Governor George W. Bush's own TexasCommissioner of Health openly denounced McIhaney's anti-condom propagandaand his professional credibility.Dr. W. David Hager: Appointed to the FDA's Reproductive Health DrugsAdvisory Committee. Dr. Hager served as spokesperson for the ChristianMedical Association. He authored the book, As Jesus Cared for Women:Restoring Women Then and Now, and co-authored a book that recommendedscripture readings and prayers to relieve the symptoms of PMS. Dr. Hageropposes prescribing contraceptives to unmarried women and spearheaded apetition drive by the Christian Medical Association to revoke the FDA'sapproval of mifepristone, the so-called "morning after pill."Dr. Joseph B. Stanford: Also appointed to the Reproductive Health DrugsAdvisory Committee. Dr. Stanford is on record for his belief that the onlyacceptable form of contraception, besides abstinence, is the all-natural"rhythm method." Dr. Stanford refuses to prescribe contraceptives, statingthat "(modern) medicine is permeated with attitudes toward sexuality andfertility that are incompatible with Christian values of the sanctity oflife, marriage, and procreation, attitudes that both reflect andperpetuate the recreational approach to sexuality found in our secularculture."Susan A. Crockett: The third Christian fundamentalist appointed to thesame FDA committee. Crockett served as a board member of the AmericanAssociation of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She co-authored,"Using Hormone Contraceptives is a Decision Involving Science, Scripture,and Conscience" in the book, The Reproductive Revolution: A ChristianAppraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies and the Family. The bookwas edited by Dr. Hager.When the hot issue of stem-cell research came up, President Bush dismissedtwo members of his Council on Bioethics who had each strongly supportedthe use of embryonic stem cells in research. They were replaced by threenew members who, as the pro-life Family Research Council reported, "fallmore in line with the President's pro-life views."Information became a prime target of the Christian Taliban. President Bushsays he respects "good science," when making public policy. But, the cruxof the matter apparently hinges on the definition of "good," especiallywhen it comes to family-planning issues. When good science clashes withBiblical fundamentalist beliefs in this administration, science losesevery time.Early in 2001 Bush's Christian Taliban began scrubbing federal informationsources of offending materials. The censorship campaign promptedRepresentative Henry Waxman (D-CA) to send a letter to o HHS SecretaryThompson demanding an explanation for the removal of information from HHSWeb of scientific findings by the National Cancer Institute that, contraryto anti-choice propaganda, abortions do not increase the risk of breastcancer. Thompson never responded but the "cleansing" continued.
    -Scientific data on condom use, long available on government health Web
    sites, was removed and replaced by sermons on abstinence and alarmist
    propaganda that exaggerated the risks of condom use.
    -The phrase "reproductive health" was expunged and replaced with the
    vague terms "related clinical preventive health services" and "related
    preventive health services."
    -Links to non-governmental family planning resources were deleted.
    -Web sites at the Centers of Disease Control and National Institute of
    Health were cleared of scientific studies and materials relating to
    abortion and condom use.
    -At the CDC results from a peer-reviewed study showing that education
    about condom use did not result in increased sexual activity or sex at
    younger age, were deleted from the Web site.
    -The NIH's Web site was cleaned of FAQ's on condom effectiveness and a
    sexuality education curriculum called "Programs that Work."Good science was disappearing from government publications and Web sitesat such a pace that the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report inearly 2004 documenting and condemning the Bush administration.
    There is significant evidence that the scope and scale of the
    manipulation, suppression and misrepresentation of science by the Bush
    administration is unprecedented... There is a well-established pattern
    of suppression and distortion of scientific findings by high-ranking
    Bush administration political appointees across numerous federal
    agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public
    safety, and community well-being." (Union of Concerned Scientists,
    report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking. 2004.)So, even as the Bush administration denounced and battled Islamicreligious zealotry abroad it was and is nurturing a fundamentalistChristian version here at home, much to the delight of radical right-wingChristians."Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not neutral about what kind ofgovernment we should have," states Dr. Mark Allen Ludwig, author of TrueChristian Government."God gave governments responsibility only for infrastructure and defense,"according to an article by Rev. Bob Enyart, pastor of Denver Bible Church."If government limited itself to its two just functions, thereby gettingout of education, health care, farming, etc., it could better defendAmerica. ... Christians who carefully study the Bible are best qualifiedto teach the world how it should be governed."One of the oldest and best-established forces in the Christian Talibanattack on secular government has been the Christian Coalition. Recentlythe group threw its full weight behind the President's push for aconstitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The Christian Coalition hasbeen conducting a "Let's Take America Back" national petition drive overthe last several months, which now also includes support for the so-calledFederal Marriage Amendment. The Christian Coalition mission statementstates:
    We are driven by the belief that people of faith have a right and a
    responsibility to be involved in the world around them. That involvement
    includes community, social and political action. Whether on a stump, in
    print, over the airways the Christian Coalition is dedicated to
    equipping and educating God's people with the resources and information
    to battle against anti-family legislation.What is remarkable is that this was accomplished without significantpublic outcry. The reason is that America's Christian Taliban are morepublic relations savvy than their Islamic counterparts. No American womenare being forced to cover up, beaten for appearing in public wearing makeup, or barred from the workplace. The changes being made are more subtleand less visibly shocking. They are incremental, technical, administrative– but far-reaching.They have also gotten away with it because we Americans like to considerourselves tolerant and respectful of religious beliefs. Openly criticizingsomeone's religious beliefs ranks right up there with racism and bigotry –a fact the Christian Right has used to stifle opposition to its agenda.Mainstream Christians share secularists' concern over workings of Bush'sChristian Taliban. Speaking at the National Press Club last year,Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice President Rev. Carlton W.Veazey condemned the "back-door attempts by the Bush Administration toradically alter policies and practices concerning abortion, familyplanning, and sexuality education to conform to extreme views."So, it may be time admit that our tolerance of Christian fundamentalistsis turning us into a nation of chumps. By claiming it is they who arebeing persecuted, the Christian Taliban have cowed mainstream Christiansand secularists into silence, even as they impose their own faith-basedgovernance upon us.We need to reconnect with a fundamental ingredient of America's strength:the separation of church and state. That wall of separation has for overtwo centuries spared Americans ftom the kind of religious strife witnessedin Bosnia, the Middle East, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.Mixing religious dogma and public policy always creates an explosivecompound – and it always blows.

Every post is a mention to a straw-man.

Better get your eyes checked, there chum. I'd don't see anywhere near that many references to straw man arguments. For that matter, I don't see as many references as there are samples.

From your website I didn't think you had a sense of humor.

Perhaps the humour is too sublime for you. Somebody obviously gets it:

Html Gear - Guest Gear View Private Entry Fang's Lair Monday 03/29/2004 0:57:19am

[...] By the way, your site is ... let's see: at some entries I laugh (hysterically), other entries are jaw-dropping - but overall, and most importantly - it's the ultimate in looking into the mirror of humanity.

Straw-man this and straw-man that. Every post is a mention to a straw-man. Quit dipping into the straw-man well, you are running out. I can feel the Ray Bolger rolling over in his grave.

You find it hilarious? From your website I didn't think you had a sense of humor.

I find it hilarious that you are misrepresenting my position and engaging in a straw man argument while cowering behind a facade of anonymity.

I wouldn't trust that report any more than I would trust unsubstantiated rumours of business dealings.

I find it hilarious that fang-face rails against this report while at the same time cites something entitled "The Christian Taliban" from some fringe web site.

Correcting my own post: the whole book isn't downloadable. However, anyone really interested in reading all the selections (unedited) could consult the Table of Contents to fill in the gaps.

This book was available free for the asking last month, but they ran out after the New York Times wrote about it on March 13. You can still download it for free, one chapter at a time, here (scroll down for the Table of Contents).

Absolutely, I agree that if taken in that context it is interesting, however, only interesting. Not complete, nor objective, or factual.I do agree that it represents the thinking of this administration, and is definitely of value to a collection. Absolutely.

I didn't say this report necessarily had facts. I said: "Looks like it will be a helpful addition to libraries interested in hot issues of bioethics."I haven't read the book, so I'm not in a position to pass judgement. However, it does, for good or ill, partially represent the thinking of this administration on bioethics issues and as such, would be useful to people studying how bioethics are practiced in America. A library supporting the study of bioethics would also do well to include the works of Peter Singer, even though I find him personally reprehensible.I wish I could think of a less extreme example, but for similar reasons I think it would be important for a library to have a copies of Mein Kampf and Stalin's speeches on hand if they supported the study of totalitarianism.Hope this clears the air some.

I agree with Fang, that the separation of church and state is necessary if not critical for the health of our nation. It is only with proper separation that people can be free from others religious beliefs.Bush admin. can quote all the Shakespeare they like about what makes a human, but I would no more take the select quotes of an administration with such an obvious religious adgenda as fact as I would look to quotes from the church in the middle ages about astronomy for facts.I'll take the best of CURRENT science for my evidence, and there is enough room for debate there without digging up the dead.

Hey fang-face, there are lots of crazy drunk homeless men in the park that laugh hysterically. I don't think they laugh because they have a sense of humor, they laugh because they are delusional. Reading your web page is like observing one of those crazy drunks in the city park.

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