In one of my recent articles, I suggested that we live amidst rampant moral confusion. And a long history of human ideas and events has escorted us to this point. As we continue to develop new technology, new medical procedures, and a slew of new ideas about these, there is no denying the corresponding ethical questions. But these ethical questions are not new: Is X morally right? Is it virtuous to do Y? Does Z promote human flourishing? Humanity has long pondered these questions.
We have always turned to our tribe’s wise men – our leaders, our gatekeepers – for the answers, and this is fitting. We seek the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity. Those who have wondered, asked, studied, experienced, and now know, can offer us insight about how to live excellently (read: virtuously) in the face of the complexities of technological advance and competing ideologies.
For the past seven years, we’ve turned to the President’s Council on Bioethics for just such clarity and insight about ethics and virtue. The Council was set up by executive order in November of 2001, with a charge to “be the conscience of the country.” I’d like to call attention to and gratefully applaud their contributions to the people of America during such morally confusing times. They have been an example of genuine moral inquiry and clarity, backed by scientific credibility. And the Council still holds a very special place in our minds and hearts at the CBC. Two of our six Paul Ramsey Award winners have served on the President’s Council for Bioethics: Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D. (chairman of the Council from 2005 to 2009) and Gilbert C. Meilaender, Ph.D.
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- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.