What is morally acceptable and where do we draw the line at behaviors that might just go too far such as human reproductive cloning?
Over the years American attitudes have shifted on a number of potentially hot button moral behaviors including reproductive human cloning and pollsters including Gallup have tracked these attitudes.
Gallup just came out with a poll suggesting that Americans are shifting, at least relatively speaking, toward being more morally accepting of some controversial behaviors.
For example, the percent of Americans who view human cloning as morally acceptable has more than doubled in the last 15 years from 7% to 15%.
While that 15% figure is still a very low absolute level of support, the change is more striking and potentially significant.
I also find it odd that Americans are still apparently far more likely to frown on infidelity (only 8% consider it acceptable) amongst married people than other seemingly more extreme behaviors such as cloning.
Of course with polling there is always going to be possible error (+/-4% in this case), but the trend lines look pretty clear on this one. The larger spectrum of moral acceptability questions and the results from Gallup can be found here.
When Gallup broke it down by age, younger Americans were far more likely to view cloning as acceptable as well including apparently 20% or more of the youngest age group (18-29) that was surveyed.
I wonder where this polling will be another 10 years?
It is also interesting to compare this poll to other areas that in the past have been much debated such as embryonic stem cell research where Gallup now finds (as of 2014 at least) a whopping 65% of Americans as supporters.
Can we now call embryonic stem cell research “non-controversial” in the US at this point? Perhaps so and rightly.
Another relevant point is that by an almost 2-1 margin Americans surveyed this year by Gallup oppose cloning of animals even though such cloning in agriculture is now very widespread.
Recent polling on human genetic modification (here and here as well as readers here on this blog) has indicated strong opposition amongst Americans (except in the Pew poll where things were about equally divided if respondents were asked specifically about is use for prevention of genetic disease), but we don’t have trend lines there unfortunately.