Support for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Down 4% New Survey Shows

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Support for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Down 4% New Survey Shows Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 14
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The public’s support for embryonic stem cell research has declined four percent, according to a new survey from Virginia Commonwealth University. Meanwhile, the number of people who oppose the controversial science has increased five percent from the last VCU poll.

According to the survey, 54 percent of Americans back embryonic stem cell research, down from 58 percent in the 2005 survey.

The poll found 37 percent strongly or somewhat oppose it because it involves the destruction of human life, up from 32 percent last year.

The VCU survey also showed that views on embryonic stem cell research relate directly to a person’s view’s on abortion.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents who said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances oppose research using stem cells from human embryos, compared with 18 percent in favor.

As the pro-life community continues to educate its supporters, the number of people against all abortions who oppose embryonic stem cell research increased from 64 percent in 2005.

Conversely, those who feel abortion should always be legal are in favor of stem cell research by a 76 to 17 percent majority.

Religion also plays a role as well.

The survey found 68 percent of people who say that religion is not an important part of their life say they are in favor of embryonic stem cell research. In contrast, only 40 percent of people who say that religious beliefs provide a great deal of guidance for their day-to-day living are in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

Ironically, when asked if they would support the use of embryonic stem cells in order to pursue treatment for themselves or family members, 70 percent said they would support the use of embryonic stem cells. That’s up from 68 percent in 2005.

The 2006 survey found 21 percent would not support the use of embryonic stem cells to treat their family members, up from 17 percent last time.

VCU polling expert David J. Urban, Ph.D., said the results show that embryonic stem cell research advocates can gain more support by personalizing the debate.

“When you bring it down to a personal level and ask how it would affect them personally if they or a family member were afflicted with a particular disease, it puts the issue in a different light,” he said.

He said the increased opposition in general to embryonic stem cell research may be the result of November’s elections, where bitter election contests were fought over the issue.

The 2006 survey also showed that opposition to human cloning remains strong, but is softening, with 79 percent of Americans either somewhat or strongly opposed to human cloning, compared with 81 percent in 2005, and 83 percent in 2004.

The VCU Life Sciences Survey was conducted by telephone with 1,000 adults nationwide from Nov. 7 through Nov. 21. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.