Embryonic Stem Cell Research Receives Widespread Support From Americans

Recent poll finds 72% of adults surveyed believe research has merit

Oct 07, 2010, 11:08 ET from Harris Interactive

NORWALK, Conn., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A large majority of Americans across various demographic groups agree that scientists should be able to use stem cells for biomedical research, according to a recent Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll.  

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Almost three quarters of adults surveyed are in favor of using embryonic stem cells left over from in vitro fertilization procedures to search for potential prevention or treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other conditions.  These poll results remain consistent with a similar survey released in 2005.

This poll took place at a critical juncture in legal arguments surrounding stem cell research in the United States.  Recently, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research violated a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for such work. The Obama administration appealed that decision. Soon after, an appeals court issued a temporary suspension of the ban until it could hear full arguments over the next few weeks.

"There is now overwhelming public support for using embryonic stem cells in biomedical research," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive. "Even among Catholics and born-again Christians, relatively few people believe that stem cell research should be forbidden because it is unethical or immoral."

Paul Sanberg, distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa, said, "This [poll] shows that the public still believes that stem cells could lead to important therapeutics."

The poll was conducted online between Sept. 28-30 and included 2,113 adults ages 18 and over. Among its other findings:

  • Seventy-three percent (versus 72 percent in 2005) believe that stem cell research should be allowed "as long as the parents of the embryo give their permission, and the embryo would otherwise be destroyed."
  • Fifty-eight percent of Republicans think stem cell research is acceptable (versus 24 percent opposed), as do 69 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of born-again Christians. Sixteen percent of Catholics and 22 percent of born-again Christians oppose it.
  • Two-thirds of the respondents agreed that, "If most scientists believe that stem cell research will greatly increase our ability to prevent or treat serious diseases we should trust them and let them do it."


 

The complete finding of this joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll is available online here. HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.

TABLE 1

SHOULD EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS BE
USED IN MEDICAL RESEARCH

"Stem cells come from embryos, left over from in vitro fertilization, which are not used and normally destroyed.  Many medical researchers want to use them to develop treatments or to prevent diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.  On balance, do you think this research should be allowed or not be allowed?"


Base:  All Adults

 

 

All Adults

Party

Religion

 

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Catholic

Protestant

Other

Christian/

Other Religion

Born-Again Christian

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Should be allowed

72

58

82

73

69

74

66

58

 

Should not be allowed

12

24

4

10

16

11

15

22

 

Not Sure

17

18

13

18

16

14

19

20

 

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


 
 
                 


 

TABLE 2

SHOULD STEM CELL RESEARCH BE ALLOWED – TRENDED

"Stem cells come from embryos, left over from in vitro fertilization, which are not used and normally destroyed.  Many medical researchers want to use them to develop treatments or to prevent diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.  On balance, do you think this research should be allowed or not be allowed?"


Base:  All Adults

 

 

All Adults

 

2001

2004

2005

Sept. 2010

 

%

%

%

%

 

Should be allowed

61

73

74

72

 

Should not be allowed

21

11

14

12

 

Not sure/refused

18

16

12

17

 

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


 
 
         


 

TABLE 3

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH VARIOUS STATEMENTS

"Please indicate whether you tend to agree or disagree with the following statements."


Base: All Adults

 

 

Tend to Agree

Tend to Disagree

Not Sure/Refused

 

Using cells from human
embryos for research comes
too close to allowing scientists
to play God.


 

2001

%

40

53

7

 

2004

%

19

57

24

 

2005

%

23

58

20

 

NOW

%

20

60

20

 

Allowing any medical research
using stem cells from human
embryos should be forbidden
because it is unethical and immoral.


 

2001

%

32

60

8

 

2004

%

15

63

22

 

2005

%

17

66

17

 

NOW

%

17

62

21

 

If the federal government does not
fund stem cell research from human
embryos, the United States will fall
behind other countries in terms of
leadership in the development of new
drugs and preventing diseases.


 

2005

%

54

25

21

 

NOW

%

51

23

26

 

I don't believe that we should put the
interests of medical science ahead of
the preservation of human life, which
includes human embryos.

2005

%

27

48

24

 

NOW

%

28

47

25

 

Note:  Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


 
 
           


 

TABLE 3 cont.

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH VARIOUS STATEMENTS

"Please indicate whether you tend to agree or disagree with the following statements."


                  Base: All Adults

 

 

Tend to Agree

Tend to

Disagree

Not Sure/

Refused

 

As long as the parents of the embryo
give their permission, and the embryo
would otherwise be destroyed, stem cell
research should be allowed.

2001

%

72

21

7

 

2004

%

72

13

15

 

2005

%

72

15

13

 

NOW

%

73

13

14

 

If most scientists believe that stem
cell research will greatly increase our
ability to prevent or treat serious
diseases we should trust them and
let them do it.

2001

%

63

29

7

 

2004

%

67

16

18

 

2005

%

65

17

18

 

NOW

%

66

15

20

 

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


 
 
           


 

TABLE 4

STEM CELL RESEARCH SHOULD BE FORBIDDEN BECAUSE IT IS
UNETHICAL AND IMMORAL

"Please indicate whether you tend to agree or disagree
with the following statements."


Base:  All Adults

 

 

Total

Party Identification

Religious Affiliation

 

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Catholic

Protestant

Other

Christian/

Other Religion

Born-Again Christian

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Tend to agree

17

29

11

15

20

14

23

34

 

Tend to disagree

62

51

69

66

61

66

51

41

 

Not sure

21

21

19

19

19

20

27

26

 

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


 
 
                 


 

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States September 28 to 30, 2010 among 2,113 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. 

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Full data available at www.harrisinteractive.com

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. 

About HealthDay

HealthDay, a division of Scout News LLC, is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is the largest syndicator of that news to Internet sites. Its consumer health news service (http://www.healthday.com/) appears on more than 5,000 Web sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, iVillage, US News & World Report, hundreds of hospital and hospital group Web sites, as well as print publication Web sites across the country. HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/), a news service for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals updated twice daily providing 15 articles a day across 27 medical specialties. HealthDay also provides custom content for major health portals. The newest addition to the HealthDay portfolio is HealthDay TV -- a 90-second news broadcast of essential health information that appears on several major media Web sites, U.S. government Web sites and other health information sites.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries, including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through its North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.  

Press Contact:

 

Harris Interactive

 

212-539-9600

 

press@harrisinteractive.net

 
 


 

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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