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Views on Stem Cells

Support for human embryonic stem cell research appears to be growing, with more than three-quarters of Americans who participated in a recent survey saying that they favor some form of the research. The survey, commissioned by the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, found that 72% of Americans favor embryonic stem cell research, up from 68% in 2005. Most Americans also would favor an up or down vote in the Senate on H.R. 810, a bill that would ease restrictions on the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The legislation was passed in the U.S. House last year and advocates for stem cell research have been calling on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to bring the legislation to the Senate floor. About 70% of survey respondents said the Senate should allow a vote on the bill or probably should allow a vote on the bill. In comparison, 18% of respondents said the Senate should not allow a vote on the bill or probably should not allow a vote. About 6% of respondents said they did not know. The poll was conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. and included a sample of 1,000 individuals taken in early May.

Supporting HIV/AIDS Fight

More than half (56%) of respondents to a recent poll said they believe the U.S. government isn't spending enough money to help combat HIV/AIDS in developing countries, up from 31% in 2002, according to poll sponsor the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, even more Americans said the government isn't doing enough at home. About 63% said the federal government is spending too little to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. This figure is up from 52% in 2004. “Perhaps surprisingly, it appears that the American public does not suffer from AIDS fatigue,” Drew E. Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a statement. “They want more done and believe it will pay off.” The survey included a random, nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 adults. Detailed results are available online at

www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/7513.cfm

Abortion Training Gaps

Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives lack clinical training in first trimester abortion procedures, according to a study that was published in the April issue of Contraception. Of the 202 accredited advanced practice clinician training programs that responded to a survey, 53% reported that they offer didactic instruction in at least one abortion procedure—surgical abortion, manual vacuum aspiration, or medical abortion. In addition, 21% provide clinical training in at least one of these abortion procedures. However, 96% provide didactic coverage on family planning and contraception, and 89% offer clinical training in these areas. Programs that did not offer didactic instruction in abortion procedures cited a number of reasons including that it was not a curriculum priority, clinical sites were not available for education, and the practitioner scope of practice does not include abortion. In addition, 19% of nurse practitioner programs and 33% of physician assistant programs cited the issue as too politically charged. The study was conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health, the National Abortion Federation, and the Abortion Access Project.

Military Abortions Defeated

Congress once again defeated an attempt to allow overseas U.S. military hospitals to perform privately funded abortions. Last month, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) sponsored an amendment that would have allowed servicewomen to seek abortions at a U.S. military health facility. The amendment, which was offered to the Department of Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 5122), was defeated by a vote of 237–191 in the House. The current law forbids U.S. military hospitals to provide abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Under the law, federal funds can be used for an abortion to save the life of the mother but private funds are required for abortions in cases of rape and incest. The existing ban forces U.S. servicewomen stationed overseas to travel long distances to find an American provider, seek services at an unfamiliar local facility, or have an “unsafe back-alley abortion,” according to a statement from Vicki Saporta, the president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation. Defeat of the amendment was praised by anti-abortion advocates. “Pro-abortion advocates have been trying to sneak this bill in for almost a decade, but each year, the House strikes it down,” Lanier Swann, director of government relations for the Concerned Women for America, said in a statement.

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