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Reform Jewish Leader Urges Senate to Support Crucial Stem Cell Legislation H.R. 810

Pelavin: Today, American medicine stands on the brink of being able to drastically improve the lives and futures of as many as 100 million Americans who currently suffer from debilitating diseases and conditions...Although the Senate will consider two other proposals concerning stem cells, only H.R. 810 actually expands federal funding for current, proven, methods of embryonic stem cell research.

Contact: Barbara Weinstein
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington DC July 13, 2006 - In a letter today, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, urged Senators to support life-saving stem cell legislation, H.R. 810, which would open up stem cell lines for federally-funded research. The Senate is set to vote on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810) during the week of July 17th. The full text of the letter follows:

July 13, 2006

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose more than 900 congregations encompass over 1.5 million Jews across North America, I urge you to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810). A companion bill passed the House on May 24, 2005, in a strong bipartisan vote. As you know, Senator Frist has announced that this vital legislation will be considered on the Senate floor during the week of July 17th.

Therapeutic stem cell research holds out tremendous promise for finding a cure or treatment for conditions including breast cancer and prostate cancer, leukemia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries and Huntington’s chorea. It holds the potential to repair and regenerate human tissues, nerve cells, and skin cells. Today, American medicine stands on the brink of being able to drastically improve the lives and futures of as many as 100 million Americans who currently suffer from debilitating diseases and conditions. Creation of stem cells through therapeutic cloning is the best way to advance this crucial research.

The Reform Jewish Movement is deeply committed to the highest moral imperatives to heal the sick and to save human life. Medical advances that could be achieved through embryonic stem cell research are simply too close-at-hand to let this opportunity slip through our fingertips.

H.R. 810 will open up stem cell lines for federally-funded research while ensuring that embryos used to derive stem cells were originally created for fertility treatment purposes and are in excess of clinical need; that the individuals seeking fertility treatments for whom the embryos were created have determined that the embryos will not be implanted in a woman and will otherwise be discarded; and that the individuals for whom the embryos were created have provided written consent for embryo donation.

Opponents of this research argue that embryonic stem cell research is an affront to the dignity of human life. The fact remains, however, that this legislation strengthens human dignity by utilizing the power of science to alleviate human suffering. Embryos utilized for research are not fertilized nor are they ever implanted within a woman for the purpose of reproduction. As Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has noted: “I believe it's the most pro-life position to be able to help the living, especially from fertilized eggs and in vitro fertilization clinics that are going to be discarded and would die anyway.”

Although the Senate will consider two other proposals concerning stem cells, only H.R. 810 actually expands federal funding for current, proven, methods of embryonic stem cell research. Stem cell research is gaining strength in other countries around the world. It is necessary that the United States continue its effort to expand and improve methods on the bioethics forefront. I urge your continued support for H.R. 810 in order to expand funding for research and development of new stem cell lines.

Respectfully,

Mark J. Pelavin
Associate Director

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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