Let My Scientists Go

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13 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    For many, any stem cell research that does not involve the use of fetuses is not a useful justification for abortion, so it deserves no publicity.

  2. Gershon Josephs says:

    > Mr. Bush’s insistence on giving moral considerations a seat at the scientific public policy table is not only defensible, it is admirable.

    You are misrepresenting the issue here. The issue is not Bush’s ‘moral considerations’. Nobody is against morality. Rather, the issue is that Bush’s particular moral considerations are informed by a version of right wing fundamentalist Christianity, which many people find alarming. And so should you, being a religious Jew.

  3. Raphael Kaufman says:

    Torah Jews in general and the Agudah in particular should be very wary of aligning themselves with alien religeous doctrines. The positions taken by certain Christian Fundamentalist groups and the President vis a vis abortion, embrionic stem cell research, the “Morning After Pill”, etc. do not agree with normative Halacha.

    Right-to-Life/Pro-Choice is a first amendment issue. That is, can one group impose it’s religeous views on other religions.

    R. Kaufman
    Monsey NY

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Gershon Josephs: Rather, the issue is that Bush’s particular moral considerations are informed by a version of right wing fundamentalist Christianity

    Ori: Do you consider any moral argument informed by right wing fundamentalist Christianity inherently wrong and not worthy of consideration? If so, why? If not, could you argue the merits of this particular case without what is essentially an ad-hominem attack?

  5. Tal Benschar says:

    The immorality here is the position argued for by the Times — that anything in the name of science must ipso facto be ok, and any objection or reservation on moral grounds is to be regarded as benighted medieval religiosity.

    How is this stance different from Dr. Mengele, yimach shmo?

  6. Noam says:

    I have not read the article in the Times. However, from the snippet quoted by Rabbi Shafran, it says “their moral code”, not “a moral code.” President Bush is not the only one who has a moral code. And, disagreeing with President Bush’s moral code does not imply that a moral code does not exist. This is poor logic, and a poor assumption.

    I have read a number of very respected poskim who opine that stem cells from fetuses are ok for research. Therefore, the Fundamentalist Christian position is not necessarily the halachic position. In fact, the fundamentalist Christian position on fetuses and abortion is NOT the same as any halachic position. While I agree agree on working with people when our interests coincide, the halachic and Christian approaches to not coincide on this issue. The Christian approach is that life begins at conception. We do not hold that. There are implications to this seemingly small difference. There are instances where abortion would be mandatory in Jewish law, but would be forbidden under the Christian formulations. I dont see how there could be halachic support for the Christian formulations, knowing that if those are codified into the law of the land, following halacha would wind up being a criminal offense.

    All believing Jews want a moral society. The basic question is: is it better to err on the side of too much freedom, or on the side of too many(and in many cases non-halachic) restrictions. I would hope that we remember the lessons of history when non-Jewish religions are allowed to dictate the laws of the land. we need to have the freedom to follow the dictates of the Torah, and have the confidence in our fellow Jews, and our fellow citizens that they will not abuse that freedom.

  7. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Raphael Kaufman: Right-to-Life/Pro-Choice is a first amendment issue. That is, can one group impose it’s religeous views on other religions.

    Ori: I disagree. Imagine that there was a religion, the hypotheticalians, who said that life begins at the age of one week. If a hypotheticalian woman were to kill her three day old baby, she would still go to jail – we would impose our “life starts at birth” standard.

    Similarly, if adherents of a specific religion (or subgroup thereof) believed that women who act in a certain way are asking to be raped, we’d still jail them if they rape any of those women example.

    To live in a human society, we have to impose some moral laws. For many people, their moral code comes from their religion. To turn it into a 1st ammendment issue will allow crimes in the name of religion.

    Note: I decided not to address the question of when life starts. I’m not competent to have an opinion.

  8. Charles B. Hall says:

    It is very misleading to say that there is a “Christian position” on abortion. Abortion is a major theological machloket within the Christian community today, with many churches (including President Bush’s own) supporting the so-called “pro-choice” side and arguing that *their* position is the proper interpretation of Christian theology.

    This is clearly not a dispute in which Jews should take sides. Has there ever, at any time in the past 1900 years, been an intra-Christian theological dispute in which our rabbis took a position? Better to simply state our own position regarding the halachah and leave it at that.

  9. Charles B. Hall says:

    At least on the stem cell research issue the Bush administration is open about the fact that the policy decision is based on non-scientific grounds. Unfortunately, there are numerous other examples in which the Bush administration has engaged in the politicization of science in order to promote their ideological agenda. Examples include promotion of the discredited idea that abortion is associated with breast cancer, rejection of the fact of global warming and the strong evidence for its association with human activity, pushing of abstinence-only sex ed programs that were shown to be ineffective by the administration’s own evaluation, and using relativist arguments to support the teaching intelligent design as a legitimate scientific scientific theory. The last should be particularly chilling to those of us who believe in the existence of absolute truth.

  10. Noam says:

    I would add one item to Dr. Hall’s list. The Food and Drug Administration has never ruled against it’s scientific panel when it has reccomended a drug except in one instance- the morning after pill. And the basis for the overruling was flimsy at best(the concern that it hadn’t been tested in the under 16 population- as if it couldn’t have been approved with an age restriction, or other caveats).

  11. Raphael Kaufman says:

    Ori, your point is well taken and there is no need to posit hypotheticals. For instance, psychedelic mushrooms and herbs are illegal even though they are used in legitimate Native American religeous practices. But submitting to the laws of a particular society is not the same as agreeing with them. I submit that this is, in fact a First Amendment Issue (note that I wrote it as a question). It may be that the Courts will hold that there is an “overriding public interest” in ruling that life begins at conception even though the ruling conflicts with Halacha (which it does). In such a case we, as US citizens, will submit to the Law of the Land. But we should not, however, join with other religeous groups calling for such a ruling.

    The establishment of a just system of government is a Noachide law. These can be based on a secular concept of morality which is, of course, a human construct. As halachic Jews, we follow G-d’s Law. Human concepts of morality have nothing to do with it. There are many examples in Tanach, Mechias Amalek for one, that would would violate almost anyone’s idea of “rightness”, even King Saul’s. It is our job as Torah Jews to uphold and follow Halacha even when it coflicts with our personal sense of right and wrong. No one can control anyone’s personal beliefs and feelings, but to publicly espouse a position that is in conflict with Halacha simply to gain political advantage is a grave error.

  12. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    A generation ago, it is possible that the courts might have overturned prohibitions on otherwise illegal drugs for religious use. However, after being packed with conservative appointees, the Supreme Court allowed such a prohibition. Indeed when Congress passed a law to protect such religious use, the Court gutted it. This goes far beyond abortion — should some local or state government ban shechita, or even brit milah, it is clear that there will be no relief from the courts in the United States.

  13. Raphael Kaufman says:

    Should some local or state government ban shechita, or even brit milah, it is clear that there will be no relief from the courts in the United States.

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