George W. Bush photo

Remarks Prior to a Meeting With the President's Council on Bioethics

January 17, 2002

The President. It's nice to see everybody.

Participant. We're very pleased to be here.

The President. I'm glad you're here. First, let me just say a couple of comments. One, I think—let me thank Leon for taking on the assignment. I appreciate so very much Leon's counsel early on in my administration about how to deal with some very important issues. And then, obviously, I made the decision to put together a council, and I want to thank you all for serving.

I just told NBC News in there that I really think you can help be the conscience of the country, to help us understand some really, really difficult issues that face America and will really face us as we go down the road, and what a vital, vital contribution that you're going to make. It'll help people like me understand what the terms mean and how to come to grips with how medicine and science interface with the dignity of—the issue of life and the dignity of life and the notion that life is—you know, that there is a Creator.

This is, I think, one of these historic moments for our country, as we come to grips with a new world and how to deal with the new world. And I hope you take this—I know you take this seriously, and I just want to assure you I take it seriously and so does this administration. We all have consciences, and we wrestle with very tough issues. And there's no easy answer to some of the issues. It's hard to look at a parent of a child who's dying and believes if you take life, it will save a life. I mean, these are tough, tough issues to confront.

And I've confronted one already, and there will be others. And I look forward to your advice and counsel, and so does the Nation. It's not just me, it's the country that's going to count on you to really think through what we face.

And not only that, it will serve the world, because we're now in a unique position. I don't want to be megalomaniac about my views, but we're leading—we're leading on a lot of fronts. And this is another front in which this country can lead, because I can assure you that other leaders are looking at it. I've talked to them, and they don't know what to do. They're wrestling with decisions, and when America makes up her mind to do something, a lot of people listen. So this is a huge forum.

So thanks for taking it on. And I want to thank Leon for his leadership. And I want to thank Tommy for being here— and Dr. Marburger. And I'll be glad to listen, answer questions. I'm not sure what we ought to do, Leon, but first you ought to say something.

[At this point, Council Chair Leon R. Kass, M.D., made brief remarks.]

The President. Let me say two other things, and then I will listen. One, you need to monitor the stem cell issue. That was the charge I gave on national TV that day, and I forgot to mention that. And the other thing is that I have spoken clearly on cloning. I just don't think it's right. On the other hand, there is going to be a lot of nuance and subtlety to the issue, I presume. And I think this is very important for you all to help the Nation understand what this means.

And with that, I'd be glad to hear folks. Mr. Carter.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:55 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson; Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John H. Marburger III; and Council member Stephen Carter. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Dr. Kass. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Prior to a Meeting With the President's Council on Bioethics Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives