Stem Cell Support Rising After Reagan's Death
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans Now Support More Funding for Stem Cell Research
WebMD News Archive
June 16, 2004 -- Less than two weeks after former President
Ronald Reagan's death, public support for stem cell research is already growing
in response to Nancy Reagan's call for lifting federal restrictions on stem
The first public opinion survey after Reagan's death shows that
74% of Americans say they are more likely to support stem cell research in the
wake of his death, including 79% of moderates, 62% of conservatives, and 62% of
fundamentalist or evangelical Christians.
"The bottom line is that when roughly 3 of 4 Americans
think Nancy Reagan is right in pressing the Bush White House to lift
restrictions on stem cell research, what you have is a fundamental shift in the
way average Americans look at this issue," says Civil Society Institute
President Pam Solo.
The telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults was conducted
June 10-23 by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of the Results for America
project of the nonprofit Civil Society Institute.
Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's disease before his death, and
researchers believe stem cell research may be used to eventually develop new
treatments and possibly even cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's,
Parkinson's, type 1 diabetes, and spinal cord injuries.
Support Growing for Stem Cell Research
Embryonic stem cells are cells that can develop into any type
of cell in the human body. The cells are extracted from donated frozen embryos
in fertility clinics, and the extraction process destroys the embryo.
Stem cells can then reproduce on their own, creating what is
called a line of stem cells for researchers to work with.
In August 2001, President George W. Bush restricted federal
funding for embryonic stem cell research to stem cell lines created before that
time. Research on stem cell lines created after that time cannot receive
Researchers say public support for stem cell research has grown
dramatically since then. When asked for their initial views on medical research
using human embryos, a survey conducted in 2001 showed 48% of Americans
supported it and 43% were opposed. This survey shows that margin has grown to
60% and 26%.