New Poll Shows Decline in Support for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Poll Shows Decline in Support for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 25
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A new poll conducted by Newsweek shows a decline in the support for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. The poll also finds support for a new method of obtaining embryonic stem cells that a biotech firm falsely claims can retrieve the cells without destroying human life.

According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans favor funding embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds while 40 percent say they don’t.

That eight percent margin is down from an October 2005 Newsweek poll showing a 50-36 percent split — or a 14 percent margin. That means support for funding embryonic stem cell research with tax dollars is down 6 percent from late last year.

Republicans opposed taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research on a 50-38 margin while Democrats supported it 54-34 percent.

Of those who favor funding the unproven research, 77 percent say they do so because they support scientific progress generally while 21 percent do because they know someone with an incurable disease.

Of those who oppose funding, 49 percent say they think it would not be a good use of public money while 46 percent say it conflicts with their religious or moral values.

The poll also found just 17 percent of Americans would base their vote on Congressional candidates this November on the issue of stem cell research. Some 55 percent say the issue is important but wouldn’t affect their vote and 22 percent say it would definitely not be a factor in how they vote.

That means biotech firms and politicians who say pro-life advocates will suffer defeats at the polls because of their opposition to funding embryonic stem cell research may not gain as much support as they think.

The Newsweek poll splits from a previous survey showing Americans opposing the use of taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research.

Conducted by International Communications Research in mid-May, the poll found 48% of
Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding and another 12 percent had no position.

The ICR survey found 57% favored funding only the research avenues that do not harm the
donor. Just 24% favored funding all stem cell research, including the type that involves destroying human embryos.

The results from the Newsweek poll also show:

* Fifty percent of Americans say the Bush administration should support funding for the new method of embryonic stem cell research while 35 percent said it doesn’t warrant funding.

* About 75 percent of those polled say they understand the issue of stem cell research somewhat or very well while 24 percent say they do not understand it too well or at all.

* Some 53 percent of respondents say they approve of in vitro fertilization while 34 percent disapprove.

The Newsweek poll surveyed 1,002 national adults 18 and older from August 24-25 and had a 4 percent margin of error.