"Cloning" Humans Is a Turn Off to Most Americans

by Lydia Saad

Embryonic cloning for research is also opposed

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The U.S. Senate is currently grappling with a number of bills dealing with the legality of human cloning, a medical advance most Americans would prefer to see thwarted. The issue of sharpest debate in the halls of Congress is whether all forms of human cloning should be illegal -- including cloning done to harvest stem cells from human embryos -- or whether only cloning for reproductive purposes should be banned. A recent Gallup poll found that most Americans oppose both types of cloning. At the same time, however, a majority is supportive of using embryonic stem cells in medical research -- a procedure that, going forward, may rely on cloning.

Overall, the May 6-9 survey suggests that the word cloning sets off alarms for Americans, particularly when it is associated with creating human beings or embryos. A slim majority supports cloning adult stem cells for use in medical research -- a procedure that President Bush and pro-life advocates support, but pro-cloning advocates say does not provide the same opportunities for medical advances as embryonic stem cells. A larger majority favors the cloning of human organs and body parts for use in medical transplants.

The clearest opposition to cloning is seen in reference to cloning for the purposes of giving birth to a human. According to Gallup's May 6-9 survey on values and moral issues, only 8% of the public supports this while 90% is opposed. However, a large majority of Americans is also opposed to "cloning of human embryos for use in medical research."

Support for Cloning Human Embryos
May 6-9, 2002

At the same time, when asked about medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos -- a majority says this is morally acceptable.

Morality of Stem Cell Research
Using Human Embryos
May 6-9, 2002

The results to the two questions shown above could be interpreted as contradictory because, while not specified in the question wording, cloning is one of the procedures by which embryos used in stem cell research would be obtained. However, the view that stem cell research is morally acceptable could also be explained by the fact that last year's stem cell research debate focused on the use of surplus embryos from fertility treatments, not those created by cloning.

Politics of the Cloning/Stem Cell Debate

Congressional debate over cloning legislation currently pits President Bush and pro-life advocacy groups against the Democratic leadership and the biotechnology industry. A sweeping ban on all forms of cloning passed the U.S. House last year, but the Senate version -- a bill sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., -- is facing stiff competition from other proposals that would ban cloning for reproductive purposes, but allow it for stem cell research.

In an April 10 speech announcing his "wholehearted" support for the Brownback-Landrieu bill, President Bush outlined his perspective on the scientific issues involved in the cloning debate and asserted his position:

In the current debate over human cloning, two terms are being used: reproductive cloning and research cloning. Reproductive cloning involves creating a cloned embryo and implanting it into a woman with the goal of creating a child. Fortunately, nearly every American agrees that this practice should be banned. Research cloning, on the other hand, involves the creation of cloned human embryos which are then destroyed to derive stem cells.

I believe all human cloning is wrong, and both forms of cloning ought to be banned, for the following reasons. First, anything other than a total ban on human cloning would be unethical. … Secondly, anything other than a total ban on human cloning would be virtually impossible to enforce. …Third, the benefits of research cloning are highly speculative.

However, despite President Bush's strong anti-cloning position, the Gallup poll shows no partisan differences within the public in its reaction to cloning human embryos for research. Roughly 60% of Republicans, Democrats and independents nationwide say they oppose it. Larger differences are seen by gender, with only 29% of women supporting it compared to 40% of men. But religiosity is the more significant factor in attitudes toward embryonic cloning, with regular churchgoers showing more opposition than those who attend less frequently.

Support for Cloning Human Embryos:
by Church Attendance
May 6-9, 2002

These religious differences are reflected in regional differences, where the people from the more religious South and Midwest are more widely opposed to using cloned embryos for research than are those living in the East and West.

East

Midwest

South

West

Favor

37%

32%

27%

42%

Oppose

58%

61%

68%

54%

There is also a strong correlation between attitudes toward abortion and cloning, with 50% of self-defined "pro-choice" Americans favoring the cloning of human embryos and three-quarters of self-defined "pro-life" Americans opposing it.

"Pro-Choice"

"Pro-Life"

Favor

50

20

Oppose

45

77

Animal Cloning Also Frowned On

It is not just human cloning that concerns Americans. Cloning animals for use as pets receives about as little support as cloning done to give birth to a human being. A majority also opposes the cloning of endangered species to keep them from becoming extinct, but by a relatively narrow margin.

 

Favor

Oppose

%

%

Cloning of human organs or body parts that can then be used in medical transplants

59

37

Cloning of human cells from adults for use in medical research

51

44

Cloning of endangered species to keep them from becoming extinct

38

58

Cloning of human embryos for use in medical research

34

61

Cloning of dogs, cats, or other animals that people keep as pets

15

82

Cloning that is designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being

8

90



Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 6-9, 2002. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3%. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Now, we'd like to ask you some questions about cloning. Do you favor or oppose each of the following? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Cloning of endangered species to keep them from becoming extinct

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

38%

58%

4%



B. Cloning of dogs, cats, or other animals that people keep as pets

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

15%

82%

3%



C. Cloning of human organs or body parts that can then be used in medical transplants

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

59%

37%

4%



D. Cloning of human embryos for use in medical research

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

34%

61%

5%



E. Cloning of human cells from adults for use in medical research

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

51%

44%

5%



F. Cloning that is designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

8%

90%

2%



Next, I'm going to read you a list of issues. Regardless of whether or not you think it should be legal, for each one, please tell me whether you personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong. How about … [RANDOM ORDER]?

Cloning animals

 


Morally acceptable


Morally
wrong

Depends on situation (vol.)

Not a
moral issue
(vol.)


No
opinion

2002 May 6-9

29%

66%

3%

1%

1%

2001 May 10-14

31%

63%

2%

1%

3%

(vol.) Volunteered response



Cloning humans

 


Morally acceptable


Morally
wrong

Depends on situation (vol.)

Not a
moral issue
(vol.)


No
opinion

2002 May 6-9

7%

90%

2%

*

1%

2001 May 10-14

7%

88%

1%

1%

3%

(vol.) Volunteered response

*Less than 0.5



Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos

 


Morally acceptable


Morally
wrong

Depends on situation (vol.)

Not a
moral issue
(vol.)


No
opinion

2002 May 6-9

52%

39%

2%

1%

6%

(vol.) Volunteered response



 

2002 May 6-9
(sorted by "morally acceptable")

Morally acceptable

Morally
wrong

%

%

Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos

52

39

Cloning animals

29

66

Cloning humans

7

90



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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/6022/Cloning-Humans-Turn-Off-Most-Americans.aspx
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