Some more stem cell reaction


We’ve got statements from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, National Jewish Democratic Council and National Council for Jewish Women on Obama’s stem cell order — and they all like it.

First, the JCPA:

President Obama’s executive order lifting restrictions on stem cells gives scientists and researchers additional tools to help find cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other disorders and diseases, says a leading Jewish advocacy organization.
In a White House ceremony today, President Obama signed an executive order lifting restrictions on federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research.  The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) welcomed the president’s action, calling the new policy a small victory for those working to find cures for such otherwise incurable conditions which affect millions of Americans each year.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), who attended today’s signing ceremony, made the following statement after the White House ceremony:
“As Jews, we place a strong value on the preservation of life and as our nation has advanced medically we have inched closer to discovering the root, cause and cure for many medical disorders that afflict a countless number of individuals.  We do not know how close we are to discovering any cures, but with the new stem cell policy the administration put in place today, scientists and researchers will have additional tools to aid their work.”

And the RAC:

In response to President Obama’s Executive Order to lift the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

I was honored to join President Obama today as he announced his decision to permit federal support for embryonic stem cell research. The enthusiasm among this diverse group of political, medical and religious leaders was as palpable as any signing I have attended. Opening new cell lines for study and providing funding opportunities for this research greatly increases the prospects of developing treatments and cures for debilitating conditions such as breast and prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injury. Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to improve drastically the lives of millions of Americans, and the President’s moving remarks underscored for me the importance of not subjugating scientific research to a political agenda. It is refreshing to have an administration committed to rooting its science policy in fact, no matter its ideology, rather than rooting its science policy in ideology, no matter the facts.

The Jewish value of pikuach nefesh teaches that preserving life and promoting health are among the most precious of our responsibilities. Our tradition requires that we pursue advances in science and medicine that have the potential to save and enhance lives, and that "when one delays in doing so, it is as if he has shed blood" (Shulchan Aruch, Yorei De’ah 336:1). Following these teachings, the Reform Movement has for many years been an outspoken advocate for stem cell research, working with leaders across the political spectrum. Our 2003 Resolution on Stem Cell Research outlines our strong support for both adult and embryonic stem cell research, and we were honored and inspired when Michael J. Fox joined us at our 2005 Consultation on Conscience and the 2007 URJ Biennial Convention, along with other speakers to discuss the importance of this work.

Federal support for embryonic stem cell research honors the integrity of human life by seeking to enhance the life and health of millions of Americans. Reform Jews and the American public at large understand and support what experts have strongly maintained: Embryonic stem cells continue to hold the most promise for breakthroughs in life-saving techniques. We strongly support the President’s decision to repeal the limits on embryonic stem cell research and now call on Congress to codify this Executive Order into law.

And the NJDC:

Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), released the following statement praising the Executive Order lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research:

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) commends President Barack Obama’s decision today to sign an Executive Order lifting restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Obama has put science over politics by removing the Bush administration’s ban on this promising medical research.

Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to help find new treatments, or even cures, for those individuals suffering from degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s. 

We applaud Obama for pursuing embryonic stem cell research and continuing to advance this critical medical research in a responsible way.

Finally, the NCJW:

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today applauded President Obama’s action reversing restrictions on federally funded stem cell research and setting a new direction for US science policy. NCJW President Nancy Ratzan, who attended today’s signing, released the following statement:

“NCJW is extremely pleased that President Obama has issued an executive order lifting the restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research put in place by the Bush administration. The president’s new memorandum to restore scientific integrity to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is equally welcome.

“Witnessing the president express his commitment to supporting stem cell research ‘with the urgency required to make up for lost time,’ as he recalled those for whom this policy reversal came too late, was profoundly moving. Today he gave voice to concerns NCJW has fought for, asserting the need to protect free and open inquiry to ensure that science ‘is never distorted or concealed’ for political purposes.

“Embryonic stem cell research offers the hope of treating deadly and disabling diseases and conditions that affect more than 100 million Americans. Limiting research has stymied progress, increased costs, and made the US a follower instead of a leader in the field. The new executive order is a huge step forward. NCJW pledges to work hard to ensure that Congress follows the president’s lead and provides adequate federal funding for stem cell research.

“The new directive to base public policy on the soundest science and to appoint scientific advisers based on their expertise—and not their politics or ideology—puts the government back on sound footing and opens up new opportunities for progress on many fronts. When setting government policy, religion and political ideology are no substitute for facts and science. NCJW is relieved that once again our government will rejoin the scientific mainstream."



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