Most believers favor using CRISPR technology in babies to fix congenital conditions, but not to reduce risk of disease later in life.
Scientists are finding it easier and easier to alter a baby’s genes, thanks to the groundbreaking CRISPR method. But Americans are divided on which uses of the new technology are appropriate or not.
And for the religious, the ethical lines are even more stringent, according to the Pew Research Center.
In a new report released this week, Pew found 72 percent of Americans support the use of gene editing to help cure a serious congenital disease (one present at birth), while only 57 percent of the highly religious agree. (Pew identifies highly religious Americans as those who attend services at least weekly, pray daily, and say that religion is very important in their lives.)
In the future, medical professionals may also be able to use gene editing to reduce the risk of a health condition that would crop up later in life. Only 60 percent of Americans felt that would be appropriate, while support among the highly religious dropped below 50 percent.
Among the three choices Pew listed in its survey, respondents felt the most inappropriate use of gene editing would be enhancing a baby’s intelligence: 80 percent of Americans believe that would be taking medical technology too far, as do 94 percent of the highly religious.
Overall, white evangelicals and black Protestants (two-thirds of whom identify as evangelicals according to Pew) feel the same about the applications of gene editing, though they invert on using it reduce disease later in life. [The breakdown for all religious groups is in the charts at bottom.]
Pew’s analysis of all the demographic variables found that self-identifying as evangelical on its own did not have any statistically significant impact on whether a person was more or less likely to approve …