Human Exceptionalism

My Near Perfect 2011 Predictions

Every year, the Center for Bioethics and Culture asks me to predict the next year’s events in bioethics.  Each year, I comply–and generally have a pretty good record of seeing the events that our way come. But last year, I scored close to perfect. That’s because I bought a time machine at a flea market.

First, Obamacare.  From “Just Change My Name to Nostradamus:”

I made several predictions about the PPACA, sometimes called Obamacare, and look how well I did:

  • A bill repealing Obamacare will pass the House of Representatives, but will go nowhere in the Senate. Check.
  • At least one court will declare the individual purchase mandate unconstitutional, probably two: Check. Two trial courts so ruled, and one Court of Appeals. Even though the law does not have a severance clause keeping it in effect even if part of the statute is found to be unconstitutional . . . the courts will permit the government to enforce other Obamacare provisions. Check.
  • The House of Representatives will refuse to fund the regulatory process needed to implement the law. Not check, but in my defense, that was partly because the law was pre funded, so the horse was already out of the barn.
  • Certain changes will be made to Obamacare around the edges. But these will not be substantive. Check.
  • The ultimate fate of Obamacare will be decided in 2012. First by the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the individual purchase mandate . . . Second, Obamacare will also be prime issue in the 2012 presidential election, ultimately decided by which candidate wins. Check and probably check. The issue is now in the United States Supreme Court for ultimate adjudication, decision expected in June 2012, and whichever way it goes, political pundits predict the decision will place Obamacare square middle of the presidential campaign.

That’s four out of five, with the one wrong prediction not totally my fault since I was unaware of the pre funding provision of the law.

I also weighed in on stem cell research, predicting accurately that the federal court of appeals would overturn the trial rulling declaring federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.  Just too politically incorrect to be allowed to stand–even if the ruling by the trail judge (in my view) is scientifically accurate.  I also predicted that there would be no great breakthrough in the human trials for ESCR, however, I did not predict that Geron would abandon the field.  I concluded the section on stem cell research with this:

Adult stem cell successes will mount but you don’t need me to tell you that. Check.

Among my accurate misceleneous predictions–and there were many, to wit:

  1. An energetic attempt will be made to pass legislation legalizing assisted suicide in Vermont. It will be a close thing, but will fail. Check.
  2. Swiss suicide clinics will grow more brazen. The threatened Swiss crackdown on suicide tourism will fail to materialize. Check. In fact, Swiss voters approved the continued operation of the clinics.
  3. The European Court of Human Rights will declare assisted suicide to be a right in limited cases. Not check, but in my defense, the court has not yet ruled so I think I get a pass.
  4. Tasmania will come close to legalizing euthanasia, but won’t. Check, although the effort was merely postponed.
  5. Donald Berwick, the health care policy advocate who supports health care rationing, will not be confirmed as the head of Medicare. His temporary recess appointment will lapse, and he will leave government service. Check. In fact, Berwick’s last day at Medicare has come and gone.
  6. Attempts to regulate IVF in several states will be met by enraged opposition . . . None will pass. Quasi-check. Several states didn’t try, and the few proposals of which I am aware went nowhere.
  7. Octomom will get her own reality show. Not check. But that wasn’t a serious prediction.

I just got back in my time machine with next year’s newspapers–yes, they will still exist–and let me see what happens…Oh my!  The Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate is…

That’s what’s known  in the prognostication business as a cliffhanger.  You’ll find out what I now know soon enough.


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