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Faithful judgements: the role of religion in laypeople's ethical evaluations of new reproductive and genetic technologies

This study investigates whether religious commitment affects how people make ethical evaluations about new technologies in assisted conception and genetic medicine. By comparing across three different faith groups the study will clarify where and how religious commitment contributes to lay people's thinking about bioethical issues, and to identify what is shared and different within and between faith groups.

The methodology includes dialogue groups with members drawn from Christian, Muslim and Hindu faith communities; interviews with religious leaders; and interviews with people who identify themselves as 'religious' and who have experienced one of the new reproductive and genetic technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation.

The groups and interviews will explore questions of religious authority and identity, the sources of advice that people access, the kinds of reasoning that people use in making ethical evaluations, whether conflicts arise between religious and civil identities, and whether members of faith groups feel they have effective ways of engaging in public consultation and debate on bioethical issues.

The findings will fill a major gap in the understanding of responses to new biomedical technologies, contribute to the discussion of diversity in contemporary society, and will also help improve opportunities for public engagement and consultation.