New study of Americans’ moral beliefs

Gallup has released a new study of Americans’ moral beliefs, and it’s full of surprises and good-news/bad-news.  Acceptance of abortion (43%) , same sex relations (60%), stem-cell research on human embryos (60%), and physician assisted suicide (53%) is actually down from last year.  Though a majority still narrowly support suicide by doctor, only 18% consider suicide in general to be a moral option.  While 67% believe that sex between unmarried men and women is moral, only 37% think it’s OK for teenagers to have sex, and only 10% believe marital affairs are acceptable.  And only 34% believe in the morality of pornography.

After the jump, a discussion on how stable Americans’ moral attitudes have been, despite the public policy changes.

From Michael J. New,  The Surprising Stability of Americans’ Moral Attitudes | Michael J. New | First Things:

There is a body of research suggesting that public opinion moves in a direction consistent with public policy—especially on morality policy issues. Policy changes grant certain issues greater legitimacy with the general public. For instance, many public opinion surveys showed that support for legal abortion increased sharply between 1972 and 1974, as a result of the Roe v. Wade decision.

But a Gallup poll released last month suggests that this is not happening today with same-sex relations and doctor-assisted suicide (scroll down for the relevant data). Along with some life issues (abortion and embryonic stem-cell research), these issues have declined slightly in acceptability (by two to four percentage points) in the past year. With the exception of same-sex relations, all of these issues have been fairly stable since 2001, when Gallup first began asking Americans annually about the moral acceptability of a range of social policy issues.

[Keep reading. . .] 

For the complete results of the Gallup poll, go here.

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