Juvenile Diabetes Group Claims Conservatives Back Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 12, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Juvenile Diabetes Group Claims Conservatives Back Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 12, 2004

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation today released results of a poll that it says shows a majority of conservative Americans support destructive embryonic stem cell research. However, other polls show that’s not the case.

JDRF claims most Americans back the controversial research, and the group commissioned a poll of 600 self-identified conservative voters to attempt to show that such support crosses ideological lines.

The JDRF poll found that 56 percent of conservative voters "support medical research using cells from frozen embryos in fertility clinics" while 36 percent of self-described conservatives opposed it.

But of those conservatives who felt most strongly about the issue, support for the research dropped to 34 to 28 percent margin.

Pro-life groups discount the results saying that other polls show most Americans oppose embryonic stem cell research and favor more ethical alternatives using adult stem cells.

For example, a May 2002 Gallup Poll found that by 61 to 34 percent, Americans oppose the "cloning of human embryos for use in medical research."

"That is why pro-cloners have stopped using the c-word and now refer to experimental cloning as somatic cell nuclear transfer," Wesley Smith, an attorney who is a leading monitor of bioethics issues, has said.

"Polls sponsored by groups promoting destructive embryo research claim to show broad support for their agenda," says Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director for Policy Development at the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation recently provided significant funding to Harvard researcher Dr. Douglas Melton who destroyed nearly 350 human embryos to create 17 embryonic stem cell lines.

"This is what pollsters call a "push poll," in which you determine the answer by the way you frame the question," Doerflinger added.

President Bush announced his policy of prohibiting taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research in August 2001. That essentially shut down most funding of such research since only a few usable embryonic stem cells lines existed at the time.

When asked in the JDRF poll if the policy on embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. should be broadened, contracted, or remain the same, (44%) said it should be broadened while (23%) said it should remain the same or be contracted (23%).

JDRF claims the poll results shows support for expanding funding for the destructive research.

But with 23 percent of conservatives in the JDRF poll supporting Bush’s limitation and another 23 percent wanting even stricter standards, a majority (46 percent) appears to generally oppose funding embryonic stem cell research.

"Most Americans do not want to pay their tax dollars for research that requires destroying live human embryos for their cells, when their funds can be used instead for promising research and treatments that pose no moral problem," Doerflinger explained. "But that is not a question you will see in a JDRF poll."

Pro-life groups also point to other polls that show different results.

A poll commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, found that Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos, by a factor of almost three to one (70% to 24%).

Asked to choose between funding all stem cell research (both adult and embryonic), and funding only adult stem cell research and similar alternatives to see if there is no need to destroy embryos for research, Americans prefer the latter approach by an even wider margin (67% to 18%).

Meanwhile, a poll of Canadians in October 2003 found that they prefer adult stem cell research to using cells obtain by destroying human embryos.

The poll, commissioned by the pro-life group LifeCanada, found that 70 percent of Canadians favored more ethical alternatives. Only 21% thought it was acceptable to use embryonic stem cells.

Related web sites:
Catholic bishops poll – https://www.nccbuscc.org/comm/archives/2001/01-101.htm
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – https:// www.jdrf.org