The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomed today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives approving the bipartisan Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810, sponsored by Reps. Castle & DeGette) which would allow federal funding to support research on stem cells derived from embryonic cells donated to In Vitro Fertilization clinics with the consent of the donors.
The Union also welcomed the passage of legislation which will expand federal support for research on developing stem cells from umbilical cord blood (H.R. 2520, sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith & Artur Davis).
In reaction to the House vote on HR810, the UOJCA issued the following statement:
The Jewish tradition places great value upon human life and its preservation. The Torah commands us to treat and cure the ill and to defeat disease wherever possible; to do this is to be the Creator’s partner in safeguarding the created. The traditional Jewish perspective thus emphasizes that the potential to save and heal human lives is an integral part of valuing human life. Moreover, the traditional Jewish perspective does not accord an embryo outside of the womb the full status of humanhood and its attendant protections. Thus, stem cell research may be consistent with and serve these moral and noble goals; however, such research must not be pursued indiscriminately.
By narrowly tailoring those cells upon which such research may be conducted, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act serves to value and venerate the sanctity of life and our responsibilities to our fellow man and woman.
We recognize that those who oppose this research and this legislation do so upon the basis of deeply and sincerely held moral beliefs. So too, the UOJCA supports this legislation because of our deeply held moral and religious traditions. We commend all those who engage in this important debate with respect and civility for those with whom they disagree; that is the only type of debate this issue deserves.