Creation of the President's Council on Bioethics
November 28, 2001
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws
of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Establishment. There is established the President's Council on Bioethics
Sec. 2. Mission.
(a) The Council shall advise the President on bioethical issues that may emerge
as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology. In connection
with its advisory role, the mission of the Council includes the following functions:
(1) to undertake fundamental inquiry into the human and moral significance of
developments in biomedical and behavioral science and technology;
(2) to explore specific ethical and policy questions related to these developments;
(3) to provide a forum for a national discussion of bioethical issues;
(4) to facilitate a greater understanding of bioethical issues; and
(5) to explore possibilities for useful international collaboration on bioethical
(b) In support of its mission, the Council may study ethical issues connected
with specific technological activities, such as embryo and stem cell research,
assisted reproduction, cloning, uses of knowledge and techniques derived from
human genetics or the neurosciences, and end of life issues. The Council may
also study broader ethical and social issues not tied to a specific technology,
such as questions regarding the protection of human subjects in research, the
appropriate uses of biomedical technologies, the moral implications of biomedical
technologies, and the consequences of limiting scientific research.
(c) The Council shall strive to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding
of the issues that it considers. In pursuit of this goal, the Council shall
be guided by the need to articulate fully the complex and often competing moral
positions on any given issue, rather than by an overriding concern to find consensus.
The Council may therefore choose to proceed by offering a variety of views on
a particular issue, rather than attempt to reach a single consensus position.
(d) The Council shall not be responsible for the review and approval of specific
projects or for devising and overseeing regulations for specific government
(e) In support of its mission, the Council may accept suggestions of issues
for consideration from the heads of other Government agencies and other sources,
as it deems appropriate.
(f) In establishing priorities for its activities, the Council shall consider
the urgency and gravity of the particular issue; the need for policy guidance
and public education on the particular issue; the connection of the bioethical
issue to the goal of Federal advancement of science and technology; and the
existence of another entity available to deliberate appropriately on the bioethical
Sec. 3. Membership.
(a) The Council shall be composed of not more than 18 members appointed by the
President from among indi-viduals who are not officers or employees of the Federal
Government. The Council shall include members drawn from the fields of science
and medicine, law and government, philosophy and theology, and other areas of
the humanities and social sciences.
(b) The President shall designate a member of the Council to serve as Chairperson.
(c) The term of office of a member shall be 2 years, and members shall be eligible
for reappointment. Members may continue to serve after the expiration of their
terms until the President appoints a successor. A member appointed to fill a
vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired term of such vacancy.
Sec. 4. Administration.
(a) Upon the request of the Chairperson, the heads of executive departments
and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide the Council with
information it needs for purposes of carrying out its functions.
(b) The Council may conduct inquiries, hold hearings, and establish subcommittees,
(c) The Council is authorized to conduct analyses and develop reports or other
(d) Members of the Council may be compensated to the extent permitted by Federal
law for their work on the Council. Members may be allowed travel expenses, including
per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law for persons serving intermittently
in Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), to the extent funds are available.
(e) To the extent permitted by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations,
the Department of Health and Human Services shall provide the Council with administrative
support and with such funds as may be necessary for the performance of the Council's
(f) The Council shall have a staff headed by an Executive Director, who shall
be appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with
the Chairperson. To the extent permitted by law, office space, analytical support,
and additional staff support for the Council shall be provided by the Department
of Health and Human Services or other executive branch departments and agencies
as directed by the President.
Sec. 5. General Provisions.
(a) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.),
may apply to the Council, any functions of the President under that Act, except
that of reporting to the Congress, shall be performed by the Secretary of Health
and Human Services in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by
the Administrator of General Services.
(b) The Council shall terminate 2 years from the date of this order unless extended
by the President prior to that date.
(c) This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive
branch and it is not intended to create any right, benefit, trust, or responsibility,
substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the
United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.