Friday, August 23, 2013

Pew Survey: Most Americans okay with Stem cell research and IVF - but abortion seen linked to morality

by Salman Hameed

I'm back from the break and I'm catching up on good and the bad news. So lets start with a recent Pew survey on the views of Americans on IVF, Stem cell research and abortion. All three of these issues are deeply tied to politics and legal matters here in the US and also feature in science in religion debates. Here is the broad picture of American views:

I'm actually surprised that there isn't much difference in opinion between embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research, but that may be because "stem cells research" in the news often now stands for embryonic stem cell research - as that is the point of controversy for some. At the same time, political and ideological leanings do make a bigger difference in embryonic stem cell research than for non-embryonic stem cell research:

As with abortion, men and women are about equally likely to say embryonic stem cell research is morally acceptable. Similarly, adults ages 50 and older are about equally likely as younger adults (18 to 49 years) to say that conducting embryonic stem cell research is morally acceptable. However, college graduates are somewhat more inclined than those with less education to consider this practice morally acceptable. 
There also are differences when it comes to partisanship and ideology. About three-quarters of Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party consider embryonic stem cell research either morally acceptable or not a moral issue. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more inclined than their Democratic counterparts to consider such research morally wrong. Similarly, self-described conservatives tend to see embryonic stem cell research as morally wrong more than either moderates or liberals do. 
Among the major religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are most likely to say embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong. However, in comparison to attitudes toward abortion, differences among religious groups are relatively modest.
A separate question on the survey asked about the moral acceptability of medical research using stem cells that do not derive from human embryos. The overwhelming majority of adults say that non-embryonic stem cell research is either morally acceptable (33%) or is not a moral issue (42%); only 16% say such research is morally wrong. 
There are only modest differences in opinion among social and demographic groups on this issue. For example, there are no significant differences in opinion on non-embryonic stem cell research by political party and only modest differences by ideology. However, moderates and liberals are somewhat more inclined than conservatives to say non-embryonic research is not a moral issue. And those with a college degree are more likely than those with fewer years of formal education to say that non-embryonic stem cell research is morally acceptable.

Read the full report here.

I haven't seen Muslim views on IVF and embryonic stem cell research, but here are opinions on abortion:

Some of this not surprising (though look at the difference between Pakistan and Bangladesh!). Also, too bad that Iran is not in this sample - as it is possible that their views would have stood out. However, at least 10% of respondents in 13 countries think that this is not a moral issues:

In 13 countries however, at least one-in-ten Muslims say abortion is not a moral issue. This view is especially common in some countries in the Middle East-North Africa region; 34% in Jordan, 22% in Egypt and 21% in Iraq say they do not consider abortion to be a moral question. 
Additionally, in 11 of the countries surveyed, at least one-in-ten Muslims volunteer that the morality of having an abortion depends on the situation. Half of Azerbaijani Muslims and more than a third (34%) of Muslims in Tajikistan take this view. Overall, this perception is most common in Central Asia and the Middle East-North Africa region.
Read the Pew report on Muslim views here.


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