Article Title

Protestant Christian attitudes to ART

Abstract

Study Question: How do Christian religious beliefs affect attitudes to ART?

Summary Answer: Attitudes to ART depend on the religiosity of the respondent, and although the majority of those that had successfully used ART were positive or moderately positive in their views, the acceptability of procedures fell when damage to the marriage relationship or the embryo was a potential outcome.

What is known already: Religion can impact views on ART. Sanctity of marriage and sanctity of the embryo are major concerns for some Christians, but details are unclear.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was used to collect data from 1587 participants over a 3-month period in 2013, of which 1334 were of the Christian faith and included in this study. Descriptive statistics were reported for individual ARTs, and a general score of all ART approval was calculated. A multivariable linear and logistic regression was conducted on general approval for ART to identify predictors of ART approval.

Main results and the role of chance:Indicators of religiosity (religious meeting attendance and Bible reading frequency) showed that this was a highly religious sample. We found that in this cohort of English-speaking, well-educated, practising and mainly Protestant Christians 164 (12.3%) of those had personal experience of ART. Most participants that had successfully used ART were positive or moderately positive in their views. Throughout the cohort, procedures were less acceptable if there was a perception that the marriage relationship or the life of the embryo was threatened: including donated gametes (28.7–29.1% approval), surrogacy (22.7–33.1% approval), and PGD (1.0– 23.8% approval). A multivariable analysis of the ART approval score found that it was higher among those with Protestant compared with Catholic/Orthodox faith (P

Limitations, reasons for caution: This sample includes an uneven geographical spread of respondents and restriction to English speaking participants. Different views may be expressed by a different religious cohort. Use of an online survey platform means that a bias towards those with computers (consistent with education levels of this cohort) could exist. Use of this platform also makes it impossible to know the response rate, and the veracity of responses cannot be verified. However, despite these limitations we believe this survey gives us insight into the reservations held among a certain population of Christians regarding the use of reproductive technology.

Wider implications of the findings: Our findings highlight the need for ART clinicians to consider the influence of patient spiritual beliefs on therapeutic options and provide detailed information that will allow them to be accommodated. Practices such as widening the options for collecting semen and limiting the number of embryos created through IVF so as to reduce or eliminate excess embryos may be helpful for these patients.

Study funding/Competing interests: This study was supported by a grant from The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity in Deerfield, Illinois, USA. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Trial Registration Number: N/A

Keywords

attitudes, ART, religion, ethics, Protestant, Christian, English-speaking

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

https://doi.org/10.1093/hropen/hoz018

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