Jews laud lifting research ban

Jews laud lifting research ban

Reaction to President Obama’s signing of an executive order Tuesday lifting the Bush administration’s ban on embryonic stem cell research may seem like a clash between modernists who support unfettered scientific research and religious leaders who cherish moral standards for preservation of human life.
Actually the truth is more complicated.
We won’t repeat the oft-stated fact that many frozen embryos are never used and are ultimately discarded; that point is well made.
Nor will we dwell on the opponents’ argument that adult stem cells hold more research promise. In time, that may prove true, but for now the jury is out. Meanwhile, vital medical research is being stifled.
The point we want to make is that proponents of embryonic stem cell research are more diverse than people think. They include the vast majority of Jews.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, issued a statement Tuesday applauding the president’s decision. The statement said it has long backed such research “within a context of vigorous ethical guidelines and oversight.”
Obama echoed those same sentiments during the signing ceremony.
“The Jewish tradition places great value upon human life and its preservation,” Nathan Diament, O.U. director of public policy, said in the statement. “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.”
He’s not alone. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, B’nai B’rith International and the American Jewish Congress all endorsed overturning the ban.
There’s a lesson here: Groundbreaking scientific research and ethical values are not mutually exclusive, and though many people believe this move crosses a dangerous line, many more see the greater good.
We agree with the latter group.