Public Opinion About Stem Cell Research And Human Cloning
This article provides an overview of public opinion surveys specifically regarding embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.
Stem cells serve to maintain and regenerate organ function throughout life. Adults stem cells have been used in research since the 1960’s while embryonic stem cells have been used since 1998. Embryonic cells are undifferentiated; that is they have not yet been programmed to address a certain part of the human system.
Controversy about embryonic stem cells exist, with proponents arguing that they are necessary to advance medical research. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that the destruction of embryos is necessary for the harvesting of embryonic stem cells.
Review of public opinion surveys reveal that this issue was at the height of public awareness in the summer of 2001, but since then, interest has declined, although the controversy still exists.
The wording of questionnaires seems to effect public opinion on the subject. People seem to be largely against reproductive cloning, but one third of Americans support cloning as related to medical applications, and a large proportion remain unsure.
In sum, the media is very likely to be able to affect public perception of this issue because of lack of knowledge on the issue and through wording of questions.