Who’s Afraid of Leon Kass? by Gary Rosen

Gary Rosen, Commentary,  January 2003.


In the summer of 2001, as the Bush administration prepared to announce its much-anticipated decision on federal funding for stem-cell research, the White House began to leak word that the President was marching himself through a crash course on the complexities of the subject. A range of experts and interested parties had been called in for consultations, and George W. Bush, by all accounts, had proved to be an informed and energetic student. Though there was an obvious element of political spin in these tales, what did appear wholly believable was that the President, as one witness to his deliberations told the Washington Post, was “genuinely very, very conflicted” about how to balance the clear medical promise of this line of research against its disturbing reliance on cells drawn from-—and thus causing the destruction of— human embryos.