Americans split on morality of destroying frozen embryos created via IVF: poll

Getty Images/RubberBall Productions
Getty Images/RubberBall Productions

A new poll reveals that while a majority of Americans support the practice of in-vitro fertilization, the public is split on the morality of destroying frozen embryos created in the process.

Gallup released its annual Values and Beliefs poll last week, examining Americans' views on a wide variety of contentious and cultural issues. The survey, which sampled the opinions of 1,024 U.S. adults, was conducted between May 1–23 and had a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points. 

The poll found that the overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) believe that in-vitro fertilization is “morally acceptable.” An additional 10% viewed the procedure as “morally wrong,” while the remaining 8% had no opinion on the subject. 

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Broken down by party affiliation, the belief that IVF is moral is strongest among Democrats (89%), followed by independents (84%) and Republicans (72%). There is also a correlation between non-attendance of religious services and support for IVF, with 91% of respondents who “seldom or never attend” church believing the practice is “morally acceptable” compared to 77% of those who go to church “near weekly or monthly” and 63% of weekly churchgoers. 

As explained by the Mayo Clinic, in-vitro fertilization consists of a process where “mature eggs are collected from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab” and “a procedure is done to place one or more of the fertilized eggs, called embryos, in a uterus.” While lauded by supporters as an effective treatment for infertility, critics contend that the procedure is dehumanizing.

Last week, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution declaring, “In Vitro Fertilization most often engages in the destruction of embryonic human life and increasingly engages in dehumanizing methods for determining suitability for life and genetic sorting, based on notions of genetic fitness and parental preferences.”

The resolution called on the SBC to “reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation.” At the same time, it urged Christians to adopt frozen embryos created during the IVF process. 

“The In Vitro Fertilization process routinely creates more embryos than can reasonably be implanted, thus resulting in the continued freezing, stockpiling and ultimate destruction of human embryos, some of which may also be subjected to medical experimentation,” the resolution added.

The Southern Baptist Convention is not the only religious denomination to express concerns about IVF. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that under IVF, “the act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that ‘entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.’” It describes the “relationship of domination” as “in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.” 

Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created during the IVF process are protected by state law. This prompted the state of Alabama to pass a measure granting doctors immunity for destroying human embryos. 

While a solid majority of Americans support IVF, the public is split on the morality of “destroying frozen human embryos created by in-vitro fertilization.” According to Gallup, a plurality of respondents (49%) believe that the destruction of frozen embryos is “morally acceptable,” while 43% think it is “morally wrong” and the remaining 8% have no opinion. 

A majority of Democrats (65%) see no moral quandary in destroying frozen embryos while pluralities of both independents and Republicans (49%) contend that doing so is “morally wrong.” The view that destroying frozen embryos created during IVF is immoral is strongest among weekly churchgoers (54%). A plurality of “near weekly or monthly” church attendees (47%) have negative feelings about the morality of destroying frozen embryos, while most who “seldom or never attend” church (55%) have the opposite view. 

The Gallup survey revealed IVF as one of the most morally acceptable behaviors among the American public, with only birth control having a higher share of respondents characterizing it as morally acceptable (90%). Other behaviors seen as moral by a majority of Americans include sex between unmarried men and women (69%), having a baby outside of wedlock (68%), gambling (66%), same-sex sexual activity (64%), embryonic stem cell research (63%) and buying and wearing clothing made from animal fur (59%). 

Meanwhile, narrow majorities of the public believe that the death penalty (55%), abortion (54%) and euthanasia (53%) are morally acceptable, while 48% said the same about medical testing on animals. Most Americans think that that sex between teenagers (50%), gender transitions (51%), pornography use (58%), suicide (71%), polygamy (74%) and extramarital affairs (86%) are morally wrong. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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