Religion and the public ethics of stem-cell research: Attitudes in Europe, Canada and the United States

Zambidis, Elias T.; Allum, Nick; Allansdottir, Agnes; Gaskell, George; Hampel, Jürgen; Jackson, Jonathan; Moldovan, Andreea; Priest, Susanna; Stares, Sally and Stoneman, Paul. 2017. Religion and the public ethics of stem-cell research: Attitudes in Europe, Canada and the United States. PLoS ONE, 12(4), e0176274. ISSN 1932-6203 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

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.

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Authors AA, GG, NA, JH, JJ, PS and SS were partially supported by the project 'Sensitive Technologies and European Public Ethics' (STEPE), funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, grant number 217815. AM was partially funded by an Economic and Social Research Council PhD Bursary. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. There was no additional external funding received for this study.

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7 April 2017Accepted
20 April 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

01 May 2018 13:03

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:05

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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