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New Poll: Americans Continue to Oppose Tax Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Support Ethical Alternatives

 
September 16, 2010
Americans Want Taxes Used For Ethical Stem Cell Research
76 Percent Oppose Cloning Human Embryos For Research

WASHINGTON (September 16, 2010)— As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold a hearing on human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR), a new public opinion poll shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) oppose federal funding of stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos, while only thirty-eight percent (38 percent) support such funding. The poll, conducted by ICR / International Communications Research, surveyed 1,006 adults September 8-14. It was commissioned by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Survey respondents were informed that stem cells can also be obtained from adults, placentas from live births and other ways that do no harm to the donor, and that scientists disagree on whether stem cells from embryos or from such alternative sources may end up being most successful in treating diseases. Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) favor funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor, while only twenty-one percent (21 percent) favored funding all stem cell research, including research that involves killing embryonic human beings.

“The Senate should not be misled on this important issue,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “Most Americans do not support federally funded research that requires destroying human embryos. They want their tax dollars used for stem cell research that is ethically sound as well as medically promising – the kind of research that has attracted the interest and commitment of more and more stem cell experts in recent years.”

The new poll also shows continued overwhelming opposition to human cloning, whether to provide children for infertile couples (83 percent against) or to produce embryos that would be destroyed in medical research (76 percent against).

A comparison with three identical polls conducted by ICR in August 2004, May 2005, and May 2006 shows a consistent level of moral concern on this issue on the part of the American public. Federally funded hESCR has never garnered majority support in this poll, starting at a high of 43 percent over six years ago in August 2004. When informed of their options, most Americans consistently support funding only stem cell research that does not require destroying embryos. The ICR polls also consistently show opposition of 76 percent or higher to human cloning, whether for reproduction or medical research.

The survey was conducted September 8-14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 and older. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were provided by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The four poll questions, results and methodology follow.

ICR / International Communications Research
Stem Cell Research Study
September 8-14, 2010

SC-1.

Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person's tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?

Support
Oppose
Don't Know
Refused
382
478
115
31
38%
47%
11%
3%
SC-2.

Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research?

Supporting all methods, including those that
require destroying human embryos,
to see which will be most successful
208 21%

Supporting research using adult stem cells
and other alternatives, to see if there is
no need to destroy human embryos for research
576 57%

(VOLUNTEERED) Neither
Don't Know
Refused
88
105
29
9%
10%
3%
SC-3.

Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?

Yes
No
Don't Know
Refused
88
839
59
20
9%
83%
6%
2%
SC-4.

Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?

Yes
No
Don't Know
Refused
125
767
91
23
12%
76%
9%
2%

The survey was conducted September 8 - 14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 and older. Respondents were selected using an address-based random sample design. Households for which a phone number could be ascertained were contacted by phone; others were contacted by mail and asked to complete the survey via a toll-free inbound phone number or the internet. Results for the full sample have a 3.07-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

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Keywords: USCCB, pro-life, stem cell research, cloning, bioethics, opinion poll, ICR, Richard Doerflinger.



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