Poll: Homosexuality, Mercy Killings Most Divisive Moral Issues

Homosexual relations and doctor-assisted suicide are the top most controversial and divisive issues in the country when it comes to moral acceptance, a new Gallup poll found.

Results from a May 10-13 survey found a large consensus among 1,003 American adults on such issues as the death penalty, divorce, and medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos, with the majority finding them morally acceptable and less than a third saying they are morally wrong.

Americans, however, were most closely split down the middle on doctor assisted suicide with 49 percent saying it is morally acceptable and 44 percent saying it's morally wrong, and homosexual relations with 47 percent calling it morally acceptable and 49 percent, morally wrong. The latter issue also had the largest liberal-conservative gap with 83 percent of liberals calling homosexual relations "morally acceptable" compared to only 23 percent of conservatives.

Of the 16 social issues Americans rated, the gap between liberals and conservatives were starkly large on issues around sexuality. According to the poll, 89 percent of liberals call sex between an unmarried man and woman morally acceptable while only 34 percent of conservatives say the same; 83 percent of liberals say it is morally acceptable to have a baby outside of marriage while only 33 percent of conservatives agree.

A significant gap was also seen on the issue of abortion and divorce with 67 percent of liberals calling abortion morally acceptable compared to 24 percent of conservatives, and 87 percent of liberals saying divorce is morally acceptable compared to 49 percent of conservatives.

Among Americans in general, 40 percent say abortion is morally acceptable and 51 percent say it is morally wrong.

Attitudes towards the issues has not changed much since 2001 or 2002, according to the Gallup report, but more Americans are finding medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos and homosexual relations morally acceptable.

An earlier Gallup poll found America's pro-gay attitudes reaching high points with 57 percent of the American public believing homosexuality should be sanctioned as an acceptable alternative lifestyle and 59 percent saying homosexual relations should be legal.

Young adults are more likely than those 55 and older to consider various activities tested to be morally acceptable. The sharpest generational differences were seen with issues around homosexual, premarital sex, having a baby outside of marriage and abortion, the poll also found.

Among other results, 16 percent of Americans say suicide is morally acceptable compared to 78 percent who say it is morally wrong; 59 percent say medical testing on animals is morally acceptable compared to 37 percent who call it morally wrong; and 36 percent say cloning animals is morally acceptable and 59 percent say it is morally wrong.

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