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Reform Jewish Leader Applauds Senate Passage of Embryonic Stem Cell Legislation

Saperstein: We applaud the Senate for its action, and call upon the President to reverse his stated intention to veto this legislation.

Washington, July 19, 2006 – Following yesterday’s passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810) by the United States Senate, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Yesterday, the United States Senate passed crucial stem cell legislation (H.R. 810) that has the potential to save millions of lives.

Therapeutic stem cell research holds 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. Future stem cell research holds even more promise and the legislation passed today will do much to ensure that the federal government helps, rather than hinders, that process.

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that preserving life and promoting health are among the most precious of values. Nachmanides, a medieval Torah and Talmud scholar, taught that the practice of healing is not merely a profession; it is a mitzvah, a righteous obligation. Senators have fulfilled their obligation, not only to their constituents, but to all those worldwide, today and in future generations, whose length and quality of life will likely one day be enhanced because of embryonic stem cell research.

We applaud the Senate for its action, and call upon the President to reverse his stated intention to veto this legislation. We urge him to recognize that the overwhelming majority of Americans support safe, regulated and ethical embryonic stem cell research. Only by expanding the current number of stem cell lines available for federally funded research will we provide hope to those in need and fulfill our obligation as faithful Americans to work to heal the sick.

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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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