Hadassah happy about Obama’s stem-cell decision (UPDATED WITH MORE REACTION)


President Obama is going to announce that he is overturning President Bush’s executive order restricting federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and Hadassah is applauding him for it. The women’s group, which signed its name to a letter last month urging Obama to lift the order, says it will give those suffering from debilitating diseases "a renewed sense of hope":

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, applauds President Obama in advance of overturning a policy first established by President George Bush, which severely restricted federal funding for human embryonic stem cell derivation. The executive order, put into place in August 2001, will reportedly be overturned by President Obama on Monday. This significant change will allow all American researchers to move forward toward seeking cures and relief for
the tens of millions of Americans suffering from intractable chronic diseases.
In a statement today, Nancy Falchuk, National President of Hadassah, said:
"We whole-heartedly thank President Obama for his action on this important issue. Those suffering from debilitating diseases and disorders for which stem cell research holds great promise now have a renewed sense of hope, and we are optimistic for the future of embryonic stem cell research. Furthermore, we urge the members of the 111th Congress to continue working on this issue and to move toward making federal funds completely accessible for embryonic stem cell research."
Hadassah, with 300,000 members and Associates in the U.S., is a powerful grass-roots voice for Israel, health, and women’s issues, and is the founder and supporter of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Scientists at its Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy were among the first in the world to derive embryonic stem cell lines. On the domestic front, Hadassah members have been advocating for embryonic stem cell research at the state and federal level for more than a decade.

The Interfaith Alliance is also happy about Obama’s decision. Here’s their statement:

Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today following news reports that President Obama will sign an executive order on Monday rolling back restriction on federal funding for stem cell research.

"Word that President Obama will overturn the ban on federal funding for stem cell research is good news for science and religion. The ban instituted by President Bush was based on the views of a select group of faiths rather then on sound science.Federally funded scientific institutions must be guided by objectivity, facts, and evidence, and not ideology. We do a disservice to religion when we ban scientific pursuits in its name."

UPDATE: The Orthodox Union is lauding Obama’s decision. Their release:

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – applauded President Barack Obama’s issuing a new executive order that will permit federal funds to support embryonic stem cell research. The “Orthodox Union” has long been a leading proponent of public support for therapeutic stem cell research within a context of vigorous ethical guidelines and oversight.

Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s director of public policy who will attend the President’s policy announcement at The White House today, 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 is consistent with and serves these moral and noble goals.

The UOJCA appreciates President Obama’s decision to have the federal government support stem cell research, a position the UOJCA has long advocated. We urge the President, and the leadership of the National Institutes of Health, to ensure that robust ethical guidelines and oversight bodies are put in place to ensure this important research is conducted in the most appropriate fashion –balancing science with ethics.

We recognize that those who oppose this research and this executive order do so upon the basis of deeply and sincerely held moral beliefs. So too, the UOJCA supports the array of stem cell research options 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.

And here’s B’nai B’rith International:

President Barack Obama’s order to overturn some Bush-era stem cell restrictions could pave the way for important medical breakthroughs. B’nai B’rith International (BBI) has long-supported stem cell research, which offers real hope to millions who suffer from such degenerative diseases as diabetes and Parkinson’s, and to those who suffer from nerve damage caused by paralyzing accidents. By addressing degenerative disorders, embryonic stem cell research has the capacity to transform aging in America. Federal funding is a crucial step in the success of stem cell research.

The potential for major medical breakthroughs is enormous, as embryonic stem cells can develop into any kind of cell or tissue. “Scientists have had to devote much of their time to figuring out how to do their research while complying with the restrictions,” Rachel Goldberg, BBI’s director of aging policy, said. “Unlocking federal dollars for research will knock down critical barriers our top researchers have faced, and allow them to go back to what they do best – making discoveries.”

BBI, a leader in stem cell research advocacy, has worked for years educating the public about the importance and potential of stem cell research. One key effort is the BBI partnership with The American Technion Society. 

Through the years, BBI has supported Congressional measures that would have reversed the limits on federal funding and provided guidelines for dealing with embryos used for research. “B’nai B’rith will continue to work at the state level to overturn unnecessary obstacles to stem cell research and will move forward with pressing for new cures and therapies,” said Mark Olshan, BBI’s associate executive vice president. “The potential benefits of stem cell research are seemingly limitless, and we will renew our effort and commitment to ensuring federal funding is used to maximize that potential.”

Degenerative disorders make aging a fearful process for millions of people, and cost the healthcare system billions of dollars. Curing conditions like diabetes could transform the golden years, and, in the long run, end up saving critical healthcare dollars.

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