Twenty-two percent of respondents expressed support for the current Bush administration policy; fewer still (16 percent), would ban embryonic stem cell research altogether. A majority favored relaxing embryonic stem cell restrictions, including 40 percent who would support federal funding for both the creation of new embryonic stem cell lines and further research using them.
The survey also explored how potential future changes in the scientific landscape might affect public opinion. Respondents were asked to imagine two scenarios the development of a technique to isolate ESCs without destroying embryos, or a major advance in treating disease based on embryonic stem cell technologies. About 25 percent of respondents who initially favored the current policy or a complete ban of ESC research indicated that if the treatment scenario were to materialize, they would support a public policy for ESC research that is more supportive than their initial policy position. Similarly, if the alternative scenario were to materialize, 16 percent of respondents who currently endorse a public policy towards ESC research that is more permissive than the current public policy would then support ESC research only if embryos were not destroyed.
The survey looked beyond overall attitudes toward ESC research to explore the competing values that underlie them. Survey respondents were asked a series of questions designed to ascertain the value placed on progress in ESC research and protecting early human embryos. The survey revealed a subtle topography of the public's attitudes with only a sma
Contact: Rick Borchelt
Genetics & Public Policy Center, Johns Hopkins University