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Advanced Search Few science and technology—related issues have sparked as much survey attention as the public controversy over human embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. Interest groups, advocates, and policymakers on both sides of the debate have taken advantage of poll results to support their claims that the public backs their preferred policy outcomes, and the competing camps have staged ongoing public communication campaigns in an effort to shape public opinion.
Journalists have also highlighted the results of these surveys, using poll figures to complement their coverage of who is ahead and who is behind in the competition to decide stem cell—and cloning-related policy Nisbet, Brossard, and Kroepsch The study of survey trends detailing public responses to genetic engineering and biotechnology is not new.
For example, Singer, Corning, and Lamias reviewed poll trends specific to genetic testing, gene therapy, and early public reactions to animal and human reproductive cloning.
These previous analyses, however, have not focused specifically on surveys measuring public reactions either to stem cell Opinion paper on embryonic stem cell research therapeutic cloning research.
Adult stem cells, derived mostly from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, have been used in research since the s, with applications focused primarily on treatments for cancer. Stem cells from human embryos were not isolated for the first time until The prized potential of embryonic stem cells has led to urgent pleas from the scientific community and research advocates for U.
Scientists argue that they have been prevented from making significant advances in the treatment of health problems because of a long-standing moratorium on using cells from human embryos in federally funded projects, limiting work to private and for-profit ventures Rowley et al.
In July and August the controversy over human embryonic stem cell research reached the top of the U.
Public Opinion About Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Matthew C. Nisbet. Matthew C. Nisbet is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. Address correspondence to the author; Moral Dimensions of Embryonic Stem Cell Research. The cons of stem cell research are the use of stem cells and the ethical issues associated with using embryos to harvest cells for research. Another disadvantage of stem cell research is the idea that we as humans are on the verge of playing God by creating life. The stem cell-research is an example of the, sometimes difficult, cost-benefit analysis in ethics which scientists need to do. Even though many issues regarding the ethics of stem cell research have now been solved, it serves as a valuable example of ethical cost-benefit analysis.
On August 9, President George W. Bush, in his first nationally televised address, announced a compromise solution that would limit federal funding to research that used only existing stem cell lines. As outlined by the Bush decision, funding could only move forward if it meant that new human embryos would not be destroyed.
Despite pressing domestic and international political concerns, the issue remained on the political agenda in late as pro-research advocates contested the suitability of the allocated stem cell lines and as the controversy moved into a new stage when it was linked to the unresolved matter of human cloning regulation.
The beginning of the redefinition of the stem cell issue went relatively unnoticed in July as the House passed a ban pending Senate approval of both reproductive and therapeutic cloning Weiss and Elperin The latter procedure was closely linked to stem cell research, as one of its central applications involves the creation of cloned embryos for use in the extraction of stem cells.
Despite decisive House approval of a comprehensive ban on cloning, to date there has been little or no movement on legislation in the Senate, as neither side appears to have the votes needed for passage Dewar One bipartisan coalition of senators has proposed legislation that would ban reproductive cloning but would allow therapeutic cloning.
Another bipartisan coalition of senators has proposed a total ban similar to the House legislation Weiss As the policy deadlock continues, the issue has been accompanied by a sizable amount of sensationalism.
In addition, press reports have chronicled a handful of maverick fertility scientists and doctors who claim to be making progress toward the birth of a human clone Nerlich and Clarke Public attention to the issue remained steady even several weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11 table 1.
A few months later, in Februarythis figure remained relatively stable at 27 percent, though a precise trend is difficult to observe because of slightly different question wording. Relative to indicators of public attention to the issue of cloning, the available survey data is fairly nonspecific to therapeutic cloning applications; instead, survey items tracked public attention to reproductive cloning starting with the announcement of the cloned sheep named Dolly.
Through the end ofroughly half of respondents reported following developments related to cloning or having an interest in the issue, with the exception of the announcement of cloned mice by scientists in Hawaii.
Bush put the NIH decision on hold shortly after taking office in early Yet by Augustdespite considerable media coverage and despite an increase in self-reported attention to the issue, the public still scored relatively low in terms of knowledge. A majority of respondents, however, were at least familiar with the crux of the debate, naming the destruction of human embryos as the major reason for the controversy table 9.
Specific to public knowledge of cloning, the available survey items are somewhat limited. In terms of knowledge of cloning policy, as of Octoberaccording to a survey conducted by The Genetics and Public Policy Center, more than half of respondents incorrectly assumed that the government already regulated the cloning of humans.
Moral Dimensions of Embryonic Stem Cell Research As previously mentioned, much of the opposition to embryonic stem cell research from religious and conservative elites derives from the necessary destruction of human embryos.
At the base of this elite opposition are the beliefs that a human embryo is equivalent to a human life and that embryos are deserving of the same protections as other human beings. To destroy embryos would therefore be morally wrong, essentially equivalent to murder NBAC Where does the public weigh in on this matter?
Important to note is a recent Newsweek poll table Given this additional precision in measurement, the important implication for embryonic stem cell research is that a combined 58 percent of the public appears to believe that life begins either at the earliest stage of a fertilized egg or as an embryo.
Given this outlook on when life begins, it would not be surprising to find that embryonic stem cell research might be morally problematic for many respondents.
In July54 percent of respondents agreed that embryonic stem cell research was morally wrong, but among those same respondents an ambivalent majority said that although the research may be morally wrong, it might also still be necessary.
As of early Augustthis finding remained virtually unchanged, but by Mayand later in Maythe percentage regarding embryonic stem cell research as morally wrong was 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively tables 13a13b.
There is also evidence that the type of embryo used in research matters to respondents tables 14a14b. Differences in question wording should be noted.Public Opinion About Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Matthew C. Nisbet. Matthew C. Nisbet is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University.
Address correspondence to the author; Moral Dimensions of Embryonic Stem Cell Research. The cons of stem cell research are the use of stem cells and the ethical issues associated with using embryos to harvest cells for research.
Another disadvantage of stem cell research is the idea that we as humans are on the verge of playing God by creating life. - Whereas there are many facets of medical research in the world at the present time, one of the more controversial continues to be stem cell research and more specifically, embryonic stem cell research.
The stem cell-research is an example of the, sometimes difficult, cost-benefit analysis in ethics which scientists need to do. Even though many issues regarding the ethics of stem cell research have now been solved, it serves as a valuable example of ethical cost-benefit analysis.
Stem cell research and its funding have caused enormous controversy over the past decade. Stem cells are pluripotent cells present in all living organisms.
These cells can differentiate into any. Public Opinion About Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Matthew C. Nisbet. Matthew C. Nisbet is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University.
Address correspondence to the author; Moral Dimensions of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.