The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomed Wednesday’s votes in the U.S. Senate approving the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S. 5) by a vote of 63-34 and the Hope Act (S. 30) by a vote of 70-28.
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Harkin, Specter, Feinstein, Hatch and others, will allow federal funds to support embryonic stem cell research on cell lines created from excess embryos from IVF clinics, which would otherwise be destroyed. The Hope Act of 2007 offered by Senators Isakson and Coleman encourages the Department of Health and Human Services to increase funding to acquire stem cells from embryos that are already “naturally dead”.
In reaction to the Senate votes on S. 5 and S. 30, 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. Stem cell research may be consistent with and serve these moral and noble goals; however, such research must not be pursued indiscriminately.
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 these legislative proposals 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.