Poll: American, Republican Support for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Increasing

The majority of Americans are in favor of easing restrictions on embryonic stem cell research even though it involves the destruction of a human embryos, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll survey.

Poll results show that 22 percent of Americans say the government should place no restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell, while another 38 percent thought the government should ease current restrictions to allow more research. In total, 60 percent of Americans support less restrictions on the research.

Support for expanding stem cell research has grown compared to in 2004 when 55 percent of Americans said the government should place no restrictions or ease current restrictions, and in 2005 when 53 percent supported this.

Last week, Congress passed a legislation to ease government restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell research. President Bush in response has publicly vowed to veto the bill, just as he did to a similar bill last year, when it reaches his desk.

While conservatives have applauded Bush for his unwavering stance, according to the poll, only 31 percent of Americans agree that the president should veto the bill. The number of veto supporters for the latest bill dropped compared to the number of those who supported his veto of a similar bill the year before. A Gallup survey last year found that 36 percent of Americans approved and 58 percent disapproved of vetoing the stem cell bill

Bush and other opponents of the research argue that the destruction of embryos in the process of extracting stem cell is immoral. Instead, they support adult stem cell research and other alternatives that do not harm a potential life.

"The United States House of Representatives, with its vote on the embryonic stem cell bill, chose to discard existing protections on human life," expressed the president in a statement last week. "This bill puts scientific research and ethical principle into conflict, rather than supporting a balanced approach that advances scientific and medical frontiers without violating moral principles."

A new report, for example, claimed that scientists have successfully produced the equivalent of embryonic stem cells in mice without the controversial destruction of embryos.

New scientific developments have "reinforced my conviction that stem cell science can progress in ethical ways," noted Bush in his statement.

Proponents of stem cell research, however, claim embryonic stem cells have a greater ability to differentiate into a wider range of specialized cells than adult stem cells and thus have a greater potential to help find a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

A Gallup survey in May on values and beliefs found that 64 percent of Americans believe "medical research using stem cell obtained from human embryos" is morally acceptable, while 30 percent said it is morally wrong.

Furthermore, Republicans are more likely than Democrats or Independents to support Bush's intention to veto the stem cell research bill. However, even some Republicans are shifting their stance to support the current bill. In 2004 and 2005, only about a third of Republicans said the government should lessen restrictions on federally funding stem cell research, compared to 45 percent now.

Overall seventy-two percent of Democrats say the government should ease restrictions on stem cell research, compared to less than half of Republicans supporting the bill.

The survey, conducted Apr. 13-15, is based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults over 18 years old.