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Gallup has issued its annual poll on what Americans think are morally appropriate behaviors, some of which deal directly with the issues about which we grapple here at SHS, and some of which don’t. My last post on the poll covered issues dealing with the use of animals. Now, we turn to bioethical and biotechnological issues.

From the poll:

Suicide: Only 15% think that suicide is morally proper, unchanged from last year.
This result illustrates why assisted suicide advocates have worked so hard to engineer the language. Gooey euphemisms such as “aid in dying” are intended to mask the real subject at hand.
Cloning human beings, 88% think it is improper and only 9% proper, down from 11% last year.
The massive popular opposition to human cloning is also why research cloning advocates—with the willing complicity by a biased media—pretend that cloning isn’t cloning and redefine and basic biological terms to give themselves political cover. While I have no doubt that if the poll had asked whether it is morally proper to create human cloned embryos for use in research, the numbers would have moved, I still believe that a majority would oppose—as they have in previous polls. This seems especially true when 64% oppose animal cloning. I think people are just very wary of science moving into areas that have such an explosive potential to dramatically alter the natural world.
Medical research on stem cells taken from human embryos: 57% believe it is proper, down five points from 62% last year, with 36% believing it is
While this question could technically apply to therapeutic cloning, it probably reflects the “leftover embryo” scenario that proved so politically successful in garnering public support for ESCR. The significant reduction in support—five points in one year—probably reflects the success of IPSC research as well as the growing understanding that adult stem cells are performing much better than expected when the great stem cell debate began.
Abortion: Only 36% believe that abortion is morally proper, down from 40% last year, while 56% think it is morally inappropriate.
This is the third major recent poll (Pew and a different Gallup) showing people moving in a generally “pro-life” direction on abortion. The reduced number of abortions each year may actually reflect the ongoing change in people’s attitudes.

All in all, it seems to me that people are increasingly concerned with the equality/sanctity of human life. Hopefully, someday that will be better reflected in our country’s public policies. The increasing divide the poll shows between Republicans and Democrats also reflects, I think, a worrying trend in that it is hard to have a true society when its members view some of life’s most important moral issues in such diametrically different ways.

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