Technology – Therapeutic Cloning Research (1982)

We live in a remarkable period of exponential discovery and achievement, particularly in the sciences. Greater understanding of DNA and cellular science offer the hope of treating many grave diseases as well as deterioration that comes with aging.

These scientific advances must be accompanied by consideration for the moral dimensions of this research and experimentation.

Our Jewish tradition teaches that human life is to be valued above all. As partners with God in tikkun olam, anything that promotes life is good. Judaism does not grant co-equal status to an embryo. While it is not considered actual life, it is potential life and should be treated accordingly.

In the past four decades a series of technologies dealing with beginning-of-life issues have all been challenged on moral and religious grounds. In each of these cases, initial resistance was overcome by a constituency that saw itself benefiting from the new technology.

Scientists now believe that embryonic stem cells – cells derived from the inner cell mass of developing embryos – hold the promise of treating many life threatening conditions because they have demonstrated the capacity to develop into healthy organ tissue which could potentially replace that which has been destroyed by aging or disease.

In the matter of embryonic stem-cell research the pattern is similar except that potential beneficiaries comprise a far larger group. It would seem then that therapeutic cloning meets the standards of our tradition.

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism resolves to:

  1. Support research using somatic gene therapy
  2. Support research using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)
  3. Support Government funding for all such research.
  4. Oppose efforts to restrict or penalize scientists, clinicians or patients who participate in such research.
  5. Support appropriate legislation to encourage development of new stem cell lines, and the creation of a qualified oversight body to monitor this research.

*Note: Scientific research indicates that there is a great life-saving potential in the results that can come from therapeutic cloning research also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. In this technique the nucleus of an unfertilized egg cell is removed and replaced with the genetic material from the nucleus of a somatic cell (any cell of the body except sperm or egg cells). The egg is then stimulated to begin dividing, and stem cells can be extracted 5-6 days later. When the somatic cell is supplied from the cells of a given person, the stem cells isolated from the developing eggs can be used to make a tissue that will not be rejected by that person’s immune system because they contain his or her own genetic material.