Barely Half of Americans Support Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barely Half of Americans Support Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 13
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A new Rasmussen poll indicates just barely over half of Americans support President Barack Obama’s decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. Earlier this week Obama overturn President Bush’s limits on funding the research that has yet to help any patients.

Although mainstream media reports make it appear most Americans back Obama’s decision to make Americans pay for new research destroying human, life, just 52 percent support the president, according to the Thursday poll.

Another 38 percent oppose Obama’s decision and another 10 percent are undecided.

The numbers in opposition may have been higher had the question not told respondents that Bush had banned embryonic stem cell research funding. In fact, President Bush authorized funds for both adult and embryonic stem cells but would not fund new embryonic research which would destroy more human life.

The Rasmussen poll also found significant skepticism in the public about the likelihood that embryonic stem cells would ever help patients, as adult stem cells have done for decades.

Some 40 percent of those polled indicated they thought it was unlikely, not at all likely, or said they didn’t know if embryonic stem cell research would move beyond the failures it has had. The embryonic cells still cause tumors and are rejected by the immune systems of animals when they have been tried as treatments.

The poll found 29 percent of Americans believe embryonic stem cell research is wrong while 53 percent disagree and 18 percent aren’t sure. The results show how pro-life advocates need to do more to educate Americans that embryonic stem cell research is both immoral and unsuccessful.

Breaking down the Rasmussen poll further, 81 percent of those who say they favor legal abortions backed Obama’s embryonic funding decision while 68 percent of those who call themselves pro-life disagree.

Likewise, while 59% of pro-life voters believe the research is morally wrong, 82% of those back abortion disagree.

Looking at the decision in a partisan manner, 75 percent of Democrats agree with Obama while just 34 percent of Republicans do. Some 58 percent of Republicans and only 13 percent of Democrats disagree with the president.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong and to say they don’t believe it will ever help patients.

Even Obama conceded his own decision to make taxpayers fund unethical and unproven research may not produce results.

"I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek," he said.

In August 2001, President Bush put forth a policy preventing federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life.

There was no ban on funding. Instead, Bush put hundreds of millions of dollars behind studies conducted with adult stem cells, the only kind that has proven effective in helping patients with a variety of diseases and medical conditions.

During his address Monday, Obama mentioned pro-life advocates who disagree with his decision and cited his Christian faith and public opinion polls as reasons to go against their ethical concerns.

Obama called his decision a "difficult and delicate balance" and said he sided with the "majority of Americans" who support funding.

The embryonic stem cell research executive order is the second to upset pro-life advocates.

During his first week in office, Obama reversed the Bush policy on foreign abortions known as the Mexico City Policy. That prohibited forcing taxpayers to finance foreign groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations.

A Gallup poll showed a majority of Americans disagreed with that decision.

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