Just Change My Name to Nostradamus

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture

By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

It’s that time of year I dread every time it comes around. No, not the religious and New Year holidays. When I have to go back to my annual CBC predictions for the future year, and see whether I was truly prescient or a false prognosticator.

At least for 2011, I was a veritable Nostradamus—if you accept the rather unconvincing view that he actually did see the future. Or to use the American vernacular, I nailed it, baby. Big time!

Patient Protection and Affordability Act

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

  1. 1. A bill repealing Obamacare will pass the House of Representatives, but will go nowhere in the Senate. Check.
     
  2. 2. 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.
     
  3. 3.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.
     
  4. 4. Certain changes will be made to Obamacare around the edges. But these will not be substantive. Check.
     
  5. 5. 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.

Stem Cell Research

Those who doubt my prophetic powers might shrug and say that my predictions about Obamacare were not all that tough. Indeed, one could say that they were imminently . . . predictable. Perhaps. But explain how well I did in seeing the future of stem cell research!

  1. 1. The Court of Appeals Will Reverse [a trial court declaring embryonic stem cell research federal funding illegal] and allow Obama’s ESCR funding policy to remain in place. Check.
     
  2. 2. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment that forbids federal funding of destructive embryo research will be renewed for 2011. Check.
     
  3. 3. The Human ESCR Trials Will Show No Dramatic Results. Check. Unless one considers Geron Corporation’s abandoning both its human trial and the ESCR field altogether to be dramatic.
     
  4. 4. Scientists will announce success in their ongoing attempts at human cloning. Check. It wasn’t full bore SCNT, but a similar process that caused the media to tout the coming of the clone age.
     
  5. 5. Induced pluripotent stem cell research will move away from creating stem cells and to “direct reprograming,” that is, turning one kind of cell in to another without requiring the stem cell stage. Check. None other than Dolly the cloned sheep’s creator, Ian Wilmut, has stated that direct reprogramming is the future of regenerative medicine.
     
  6. 6. Adult stem cell successes will mount but you don’t need me to tell you that. Check.
     

Well that’s a near perfect rating. My only miss was a throwaway line that Congress would try to pass cloning funding based on the research success. That didn’t happen, but I didn’t formally predict that, so I think I can claim a 100% rating.

Miscellaneous

I did really well with various and sundry predictions, too.

  1. 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. 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. 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. 4. Tasmania will come close to legalizing euthanasia, but won’t. Check, although the effort was merely postponed.
     
  5. 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. 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. 7. Octomom will get her own reality show. Not check. But that wasn’t a serious prediction.
     

All in all, I think I earned an A (he said modestly). If I only had the same predictive prowess about the stock market.

I should quit while I am ahead, but the CBC won’t let me. So next month, I will put my futurist credentials on the line and tell you what to expect in 2012. Now, where did I park the Back to the Future car?

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