A recent poll shows 61 percent of American Catholics support stem cell research. The poll is a significant finding in the wake of President Bush’s visit with Pope John Paul II, whose absolute opposition to the research goes against Catholic opinion. According to political scientist David Leege, Catholics can instead make a strong “compassionate conservative” argument that using these cells, which would otherwise be discarded, to cure disease is consistent with the church’s belief that “human lives that are technically lost could save many human lives.”
Catholics share support for the controversial research with over 200 House members, who last week signed a letter to President Bush urging him to support federal funding. Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) circulated the letter. Fifty-nine senators, including prominent conservatives Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Strom Thurmond (R-SC), have also voiced their support.
Stem cells are basic cells capable of forming any type of tissue, and may be useful in treating diseases from Parkinson’s to diabetes. Scientists may be able to use adult stem cells, but many claim those extracted from embryos have greater versatility and are therefore more promising.