Apparently he was instrumental in the president's ultimate decision on this matter, and now he's risen to defend a policy in shreds. Kass presents a reasoned case, but it falls apart in several places.
Ironically, though, Kass does invoke scientific opinion when it suits his argument, writing: "It is cruel to suggest that stem-cell-based therapies are 'at our fingertips' when our best scientists have made it clear that it will be at least several decades before anyone's disease or disability might be cured by this means." Well, yeah, but our best scientists are also fed up with Bush's policy and don't think it's adequate at all.
Leon Kass is a very smart guy and capable of subtle and nuanced argument. But alas, I don't find his latest defense of the Bush policy at all convincing, because it simply fails to listen to science except out of convenience.
Kass is just doing the job he was appointed to do - rubber stamp US administration restrictions on medical research.
The Bioethics Council, appointed by President Bush, is ostensibly an intellectual group that provides an "adequate moral and ethical lens through which to view particular developments in their proper scope and depth." In practice, the council is stacked with members who are strongly opposed - mostly on religious grounds - to embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning, both vital to the developing field of regenerative medicine. The chairman, Leon Kass, has frequently gone on record to state his opposition to any research that would extend the healthy human life span.
The Bioethics Council is used by the current US administration to provide justification for anti-research policies that have already caused enormous damage to medical research. Despite the designed bias in the council against stem cell and therapeutic cloning research, the case for research is so strong that the council was not able to condemn it in their most recent official report, "Monitoring Stem Cell Research."