Americans' support for embryonic stem cell research declines, VCU Life Sciences survey shows

Americans' support for stem cell research has declined slightly, reversing a three-year trend, but an overwhelming majority paradoxically supports the use of such cells in pursuit of treatment for themselves or family members, according to the sixth annual Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences Survey released Thursday.

The number of Americans that supports embryonic stem cell research was 54 percent in the new survey, down from 58 percent in the 2005 survey. The poll found that in tandem with the 54 percent of Americans who support embryonic stem cell research, 37 percent strongly or somewhat oppose it, up from 32 percent last year.

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. Previous surveys have been conducted in September, and all have been conducted for VCU Life Sciences by the VCU Center for Public Policy through its Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory.

Also this year, when asked if they would support the use of embryonic stem cells in order to pursue treatment for themselves or family members afflicted with a condition such as Parkinson's Disease or a spinal cord injury, 70 percent said they would support the use of embryonic stem cells, compared with 68 percent in 2005. Twenty-one percent said they would not support the use of embryonic stem cells to treat these conditions, compared with 17 percent in 2005.

VCU polling expert David J. Urban, Ph.D., director of the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory in the Center for Public Policy, said the apparent inconsistency in survey respondents' opposition to stem cell research but their support for the technology if it would help them or a family member is the result of bringing the issue to a personal level.

"When you bring it down to a personal level and ask how it would affect them personally if they or a fa

Contact: Pamela Lepley
Virginia Commonwealth University

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