New Poll: Americans Continue to Oppose Funding Stem Cell Research that Destroys Human Embryos

Date: 05/12/2006

Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

DATE:   May 31, 2006
FROM:  William Ryan
O:  202-541-3200
H:  202-686-1824



WASHINGTON — A new poll shows that 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos, while only 39% support such funding.  The poll, conducted by International Communications Research (ICR), surveyed over one thousand adults by telephone May 19-23.  It was commissioned by the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Legislation to fund such embryonic stem cell research (H.R. 810), approved by the U.S. House of Representatives a year ago, may soon be considered in the Senate.

When survey respondents were informed that scientists disagree on whether stem cells from embryos, or from adult tissues and other alternative sources, may end up being most successful in treating diseases, 57% favored funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor; only 24% favored funding all stem cell research, including the type that involves destroying embryos.

“Congress should not be misled on this important issue,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.  “Most Americans do not support federally funded research that requires destroying human embryos.  Our opponents also know this.  No doubt this is why their public statements – and many of their own opinion polls – either ignore or misrepresent what this research involves, while irresponsibly hyping its potential for miracle cures.”

The new poll also shows overwhelming opposition to human cloning, whether to provide children for infertile couples (83% against) or to produce embryos that would be destroyed in medical research (81% against).

A comparison with identical polls conducted by ICR in the last two years shows a fairly consistent level of moral concern on this issue on the part of the American public.  Federally funded embryonic stem cell research has never garnered majority support in this poll, reaching a high of 43% in August 2004.  For the third year in a row, when informed of their options, most Americans support funding only stem cell research that does not require destroying embryos.

The ICR polls also consistently show opposition of 77% or higher to human cloning, whether for reproduction or medical research.  The new poll’s figure of 81% opposed to cloning human embryos for research is the highest in three years.

The International Communications Research poll questions and results are follow. USCCB press releases on the August 2004 and May 2005 polls are available at

Questions asked by International Communications Research, a national research firm headquartered in Media, Pennsylvania.  A weighted sample of 1022 American adults was surveyed by telephone May 19-23, 2006, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

1.  Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person’s tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?

Support         38.6%
Oppose          47.8%
Don’t know   11.9%
Refused          1.7%

2.  Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research? 

(Options rotated)

Supporting all methods, including those that require destroying
human embryos, to see which will be most successful                                                            23.6%


Supporting research using adult stem cells and other alternatives,
to see if there is no need to destroy human embryos for research.                                   56.8%

Neither (volunteered)                                                                                                                            11.1%
Don’t know                                                                                                                                                    7.2%
Refused                                                                                                                                                           1.3%

3. Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?

Yes                      9.7%
No                     83.4%
Don’t Know      5.9%
Refused             1.0%

4. Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?

Yes                     11.4%
No                      81.2%
Don’t Know       6.6%
Refused              0.8%