Abortion Viewed in Moral Terms: Fewer See Stem Cell Research and IVF as Moral Issues

Abortion Viewed in Moral Terms: Fewer See Stem Cell Research and IVF as Moral Issues

Regardless of their views about the legality of abortion, most Americans think that having an abortion is a moral issue. By contrast, the public is much less likely to see other issues involving human embryos – such as stem cell research or in vitro fertilization – as a matter of morality.

Asked whether abortion is morally acceptable, morally wrong or not a moral issue, only about a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) say they personally do not consider having an abortion to be a moral issue, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Twice as many Americans (46%) say this about using in vitro fertilization. Asked about the morality of medical research that uses embryonic stem cells, more than a third of U.S. adults (36%) say they do not consider such research to be a moral issue. Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say the same about stem cell research that does not involve human embryos.

The percentage of U.S. adults who consider abortion to be morally wrong (49%) far exceeds the percentage who express this view about in vitro fertilization (12%), non-embryonic stem cell research (16%) or embryonic stem cell research (22%).

Only 15% of the public thinks that having an abortion is morally acceptable. By comparison, about a third of U.S. adults say they personally view IVF and both forms of stem cell research as morally acceptable practices.

These are some of the findings from a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project conducted March 21 to April 8, 2013, among a representative sample of 4,006 adults nationwide. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

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