OTTAWA, July 23, 2001 (LSN.ca) – Suspicions have been confirmed that the Pollara poll on attitudes towards embryonic stem cell research in Canada was biased. Its results, which are reportedly being used to tailor draft legislation on the issue, are therefore misleading. LifeSite has obtained a copy of the poll questionnaire. Respondents were not informed that when human embryos are used for stem cell research, it necessarily leads to their destruction. Moreover, the poll also failed to mention that there is the ethically viable alternative of using stem cells from adults which causes no harm to the donors.
Mary Ellen Douglas of Campaign Life Coalition commented that the results of such polls in the US have varied from 70% against to 70% in favour, depending on the wording of the poll. “Those answering the poll must be informed that they are deciding on the legitimacy of experiments on live human embryos which will kill those embryos to produce stem cells. They must also be told that there is an equally promising ethical alternative – adult stem cell research – which does not involve the destructive use of human embryos,” said Douglas.
A US poll by International Communications Research commissioned by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops asked Americans to choose between funding all stem cell research (both adult and embryonic), and funding only adult stem cell research and similar ethical alternatives. The poll found Americans prefer the latter approach 67% to 18%. However, a similar poll by ABC/Beliefnet, which failed to mention the availability of stem cells from adults found that 60% support funding of embryonic stem cell research while 31% oppose it. The NCCB poll also found that when told the stem cell research on human embryos leads to the destruction of those embryos, Americans oppose funding of such research almost three to one (70% to 24%).
The Canadian Pollara poll asked respondents, “In your opinion, should allowing research on human embryos be banned, regulated or remain as it is?” The poll itself confirms that Canadians are largely unaware of the controversies around the research and want more information. When asked to assess their knowledge of reproductive technology on a scale of one to 10, the average response was 4.8. 63% said it was “extremely important” that the government keep Canadians informed of these new technologies.
The Pollara poll showed 71% of Canadians would allow research on human embryos, 26% would ban such research. The 71% that would allow the research are made up of 59% who would allow it only with regulations and 12% without.