April 24, 2024

Bioethics on the campaign trail

Barack Obama reflecting on the Terri Schiavo controversy

Barack ObamaBioethics has hardly been on the radar so far in the US presidential
campaign. All three major candidates are in favour of stem cell research, which
was one of the most divisive policies of the outgoing Bush Administration.
However, in the debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Cleveland
recently, Obama reflected on the bitter controversy over the death of Terri
Schiavo. When he was asked which of his Senate votes he would take back, he

"When I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a
situation surrounding Terri Schiavo. And I remember how we adjourned with a
unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into
that decision-making process of the families. It wasn’t something I was
comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and
stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people
understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I
knew better… And I think that’s an example of inaction, and sometimes that can
be as costly as action."

Political observers described Obama’s choice of humble pie as very astute,
because both Senator Clinton and Senator John McCain also voted for Federal
intervention into the case. Hence, the only people he could have antagonised
were pro-life diehards – and they already dislike him because of his support for
abortion and stem cell research. ~ AP, Feb 26