Despite increasing news coverage of the debate over embryonic stem cell research--and a stern statement from Pope John Paul II in late July--white Catholics' support for federal funding of the research has gained 11 points, to 65%, in the last five weeks, according to an ABCNews/Washington Post poll. Meanwhile, white evangelicals have moved slightly in the other direction: Their opposition has gained seven points, to create a split, 47% to 47%. Overall, 60% of Americans continue to support federal funding of the research--the same as in June.
Personal View Gov't Funding
Support Oppose Support Oppose
July 30 63% 33% 60% 36%
June 24 58% 30% 60%31%
Source: ABCNews/Washington Post
Most Catholic and evangelical leaders support research on stem cells obtained from adult fat tissue, from miscarried fetuses, or from umbilical cords and placentas. What they object to is using stem cells obtained from frozen embryos. These embryos are created when a woman uses in-vitro fertilization methods to become pregnant. Some of the embryos are implanted into her womb, and the extra ones are frozen. They say doing experiments on these cells amounts to killing an unborn child for research. Advocates say it can produce new treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's and for spinal cord injuries.
Armed with a bit more information about stem cell research, and barraged with intense lobbying by their leaders, evangelicals seem to be reverting to a more expected stance on stem cell research--they don't like it. But what is going on with white Catholics? In July, while on an official visit to John Paul II, President Bush looked on as the pope read a strong statement urging him to deny funds for the controversial research, saying that America has a moral responsibility to reject actions that "devalue and violate human life." That statement followed pleas by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, who are passionately opposed to stem cell research. Two weeks ago, the Catholic leadership's opposition--combined with the religious right's lobbying--seemed to make it significantly harder for Bush to support stem cell research. But it now seems clear that the issue pits people's anti-abortion views against their desperate desire to find cures for the diseases affecting their loved ones--and in this way, Catholics and evangelicals are similar to other Americans.
June 24 July 30
Support Oppose Support Oppose
Evangelical White Prots. 50% 40% 47% 47%
White Catholics 54% 35% 65%33%
Non-Evang. White Prots. 70% 18% 77%19%
Conservs. 44% 44% 53%42%
Moderates 63% 26% 67%29%
Liberals 76% 14% 75%23%
Repubs. 49% 37% 60%
SANS SERIF">36% Independs. 62% 26% 67%29% Democrats 65% 27% 60%36% Whites 60%
29% 65%31% Blacks 48% 44% 50%47% Source: ABCNews/Washington Post Methodology
This ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 26-30 among a random national sample of 1,352 adults. The results have a 2.5-point error margin. Fieldwork was conducted by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.
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