Sunday, May 15, 2005

Orthodox Union endorses Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005.

According to reports published on Friday from various J-news sources, the Orthodox Union's Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb (Executive Vice President) and Nathan J. Diament (Director, Institute for Public Affairs) sent a letter on Thursday to members of the U.S. House of Representatives (I wonder which ones) urging them to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 810); a bill introduced by Rep. Michael N. Castle (D-DE) that currently has 199 co-sponsors (mostly Democrats). There is a similar bill (S. 471) in the Senate that was introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and has 28 co-sponsors (again, mostly Democrats).

Having had the merit of spending the weekend with one of the signatories of the letter, I was able to do a bit of "follow-up" of my own. I was extremely surprised that they'd come out with such a letter at this particular point in time because, on this issue at the very least, the OU/IPA is positioning itself opposite their usual allies on pro-Israel and religious/moral issues. For example, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a devout and religious Christian as well as a staunch supporter of the State of Israel (he's spoken in the Knesset and was the receipient of the ZOA's "Defender of Zion" award this year) has introduced a bill in the Senate to ban all stem cell research (yes, all of it). When I asked him about this, he didn't seem all that worried about the political fallout from the letter, saying, "we always try to do what's right."

There's so much promise associated with this research, I think that once we have the fertilized eggs available, we might as well use them for something instead of just throwing them away. And, as the RCA stated some years back, it is not considered murder in Jewish law. Therefore, as the letter says, "stem-cell research may be consistent with and serve those moral and noble goals." (Which "moral and noble goals" it's referring to, I don't know-that's what I found from the news article.)

As I was quoted as saying in the interview I did with Ha'aretz last November, this is one of those issues on which I respectfully disagree with my party and would vote with those across the aisle in a heartbeat. I strongly applaud the OU/IPA for drafting and sending the letter and wish them much success in gaining support for the bills.


Post a Comment

<< Home