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 CNS Story:

POLL-STEM Aug-24-2004 (640 words) xxxn

Survey shows support for nonembryonic stem-cell research

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A survey commissioned by the U.S. bishops' pro-life office reported that U.S. adults strongly prefer federal funding of stem-cell research that does not destroy human embryos.

The survey also reported strong opposition to human cloning to provide embryos for research.

The telephone survey of 1,001 adults was conducted Aug. 13-17 by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

It was commissioned by the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The results were released in Washington Aug. 23.

Also released Aug. 23 was a separate survey by the National Right to Life Committee which reported similar results. A survey released Aug. 24 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, however, reported that a slim majority of Americans say stem-cell research is more important than preventing the destruction of human embryos.

The pro-life secretariat survey asked two related questions about embryonic stem-cell research.

When asked about legislation before Congress that would allow federal funding for stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, respondents were closely divided, with 46.9 percent saying they opposed such funding and 43.3 percent expressing approval.

But when respondents were presented with an alternative between funding research that destroys human embryos and that which uses adult stem cells requiring no destruction of embryos, only 23 percent supported embryonic research and 61.4 percent approved using adult stem cells.

The question noted that "scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases."

Regarding medical research in general, 79.8 percent opposed using cloning to create human embryos and 13.3 percent approved.

Regarding human reproduction, 82.1 percent opposed using cloning "to create children for infertile couples" and 11.1 percent approved.

The survey reported that opposition to government funding of embryonic stem-cell research was stronger among women, low-income respondents, seniors and regular churchgoers.

In response to the closely divided question on funding which did not offer the alternative of adult stem-cell research, regular churchgoers and people identifying with a religion showed stronger opposition to embryonic research than the general population.

Here is the breakdown:

-- Among the 394 people attending religious services at least weekly, 61.6 percent opposed government funding for embryonic research and 28.8 percent were in favor.

-- Among the 878 respondents giving a religious affiliation, 48.2 percent were opposed and 42 percent were in favor.

-- Among the 123 respondents who said they have no religious affiliation, 38.3 percent were opposed and 52.1 percent were in favor.

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the pro-life secretariat, said the poll shows strong opposition to cloning and embryonic stem-cell research at a time when "cloning embryos for their stem cells is the logical next step in the embryonic stem-cell research agenda."

Doerflinger said polls should not mislead the public by failing to mention that human embryonic research destroys the embryos or by "ignoring the documented benefits" of adult stem-cell research.

The National Right to Life Committee survey reported that 53 percent of respondents opposed federal funding for stem-cell research that destroys human embryos and 38 percent supported such research.

The committee survey was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and involved 1,000 adults interviewed Aug. 16-18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

The Pew survey reported that 52 percent of respondents said it was more important to conduct stem-cell research than to keep embryos from being destroyed. This was up from 43 percent who expressed the same view in a 2002 survey, Pew reported.

In a breakdown for white Catholics, the Pew survey reported that 55 percent said stem-cell research was more important than not destroying embryos. The breakdown did not give the frequency of churchgoing.

The Pew survey was of 1,512 adults conducted Aug. 5-10. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

END


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