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Attitudes towards Assisted Reproduction

According to and international survey by the BBVA Foundation conducted this year, citizens in advanced societies view assisted reproduction techniques in general and in vitro fertilization in particular as firmly acceptable alternatives for people with fertility problems (over 7 points on an acceptance scale from 0 to 10 in twelve on the fifteen survey countries).

However, this strong approval for in vitro fertilization dissipates in other scenarios such as using the technique to choose a baby’s sex (with scores below 3 points in almost every country).

Citizens also hold contrasting views on the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (a genetic test that can be carried out on the embryos obtained from artificial fertilization in order to select those to be implanted in the uterus of the future mother). Its use is widely accepted in all survey countries for the purpose of selecting a healthy, compatible embryo that may help cure a sibling suffering some genetic disease (mean acceptance score of around 6.5 points across the sample of countries, with Spain’s score at 7.0 on a scale from 0 to 10). Conversely, its use to choose the sex of a future baby meets with widespread rejection (mean score below 4 points).

The data that follow correspond to the “Second International Study on Biotechnology”, by the BBVA Foundation. Information was gathered by surveying a representative population sample in twelve European countries (Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic), the United States, Japan and Israel. 1,500 face-to-face interviews were conducted in each country with subjects aged 18 and over (around 22,500 interviewees in all), with the fieldwork concluding in February 2008. The design and analysis of the survey were the work of the BBVA Foundation’s Department of Social Studies and Public Opinion.


In order to obtain some background for attitudes towards assisted reproductive techiniques, interviewees were asked what they thought would be the best option for a couple unable to have children due to problems of fertility: 1) use assisted reproduction or in vitro fertilization techniques, 2) adopt a child, or 3) accept the situation and stay childless.
In all countries, a majority chose either adoption or the use of assisted reproduction techniques, with only a small percentage most in favour of them accepting the situation.

However, we can observe highly significant differences between the countries surveyed as regards the first two options:

- Countries where the majority would opt for assisted reproduction in a case of infertility: the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Denmark, Israel and the Czech Republic. In Spain too, this option was supported by a relative majority.

- Countries where a relative majority prefer the adoption route: Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland and the United States.

- Finally, in the United Kingdom and Ireland, opinions are more evenly divided between the two alternatives.

Javier Fernández | alfa
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