July 5, 2022

What if women knew all about stem cell research?

Surprising findings from focus groups
Wherever human embryonic stem cell research is debated, newspaper surveys
purport to show that a majority support it. However, because most people know
little about even the most elementary aspects of stem cell science, they are
ill-equipped to form an considered opinion. What happens when they know more?
One window on this is offered by a focus group conducted by Professor Naomi
Pfeffer, of London Metropolitan University.

Writing in the journal Social Science & Medicine, she reports that
she asked a focus group of British women how they felt about donating foetal
tissue to research and how this might affect their views on stem cell research.
she discovered
confounded the superficial surveys so often cited in the

"This focus group research found initial enthusiasm for the donation of the
aborted fetus for medical research, which is understood as a ‘good thing’,
diminished as participants gained information and thought more carefully about
the implications of such a decision… But what made stem cell research more
troubling is its association with renewal, regeneration, and immortality which
participants understood as somehow reinstating and even developing the fetus’
physical existence and social biography beyond abortion, the very thing abortion
is meant to eliminate. By the end of the focus groups, participants had
co-produced a tendency to refuse." ~ BioNews, Aug