Majority of Utahns Surveyed Support Embryonic Stem Cells Research

Majority of Utahns Surveyed Support Embryonic Stem Cells Research

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A majority of Utahns responding to a survey favored the U.S. House-passed bill that would expand the lines of embryonic stem cells available for federal funding.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, which was supported by Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson and opposed by Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon.

Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett support the legislation.

The poll conducted June 8-10 by Valley Research for The Salt Lake Tribune found 53 percent of the 400 Utahns surveyed supported the bill. About 35 percent opposed the legislation and 12 percent didn't know or declined comment. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 passed the House in May by a vote 238 to 194. A companion bill awaiting Senate action has 40 Senate co-sponsors.

Hatch said he was heartened by the poll numbers and believes that the public understands that the research would not jeopardize human life.

"The more that this debate gets going the more people say to me, 'I think you're right about this issue,' " Hatch said Friday, calling the full stem cell debate the most important medical research debate of our lifetime.

"It does have a chance of helping alleviate pain and suffering and disease," said Hatch, who was quoted Monday in a copyright story in the Tribune.

Bennett said Congress should not abdicate its leadership over the research.

"I am open to discussion on the question of how much and with what kind of embryos," Bennett said.

Cannon said stem cells taken from umbilical cords offer potential to help with more than 65 diseases, and he would back a veto of any bill to federally fund research using more embryonic stem cells.

Bishop said major breakthroughs with research into stem cells came from using adult stem cells whereas embryonic stem cell study "is still somewhat speculative."

"The limited results that have come from embryonic stem cell research and the deep moral and ethical questions that type of research raises should cause all of us to proceed with great care and caution," Bishop said through his spokesman, Scott Parker.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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