Religion and the public ethics of stem-cell research: attitudes in Europe, Canada and the United States
We examine international public opinion towards stem-cell research during the period when the issue was at its most contentious. We draw upon representative sample surveys in Europe and North America, fielded in 2005 and find that the majority of people in Europe, Canada and the United States supported stem-cell research, providing it was tightly regulated, but that there were key differences between the geographical regions in the relative importance of different types of ethical position. In the U.S., moral acceptability was more influential as a driver of support for stem-cell research; in Europe the perceived benefit to society carried more weight; and in Canada the two were almost equally important. We also find that public opinion on stem-cell research was more strongly associated with religious convictions in the U.S. than in Canada and Europe, although many strongly religious citizens in all regions approved of stem-cell research. We conclude that if anything public opinion or ‘public ethics’ are likely to play an increasingly important role in framing policy and regulatory regimes for sensitive technologies in the future.
Open Access; © 2017 Allum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.