Apr 25, 2020 - Health

Americans split by religion on who deserves ventilators amid coronavirus

A nurse checks the vital signs of a COVID-19 patient using a ventilator

Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Americans are divided by their religious beliefs over who should be given priority if hospitals do not have enough ventilators for all patients who need help breathing in the face of supply shortages during the coronavirus crisis, according to the Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: Pew's findings are consistent with other research indicating that people who aren't religious "tend to prefer utilitarian solutions in a variety of moral dilemmas," and often rely on personal philosophies. Meanwhile, more religious individuals often depend on deeply ingrained moral rules and guidance from religious leaders and texts.

By the numbers:

  • 56% of those with no religious association, the only group with a majority, believe ventilators should be reserved for patients who are most likely to recover.
    • 41% of the religiously unaffiliated said the ventilators should go to patients who need it the most.
  • 60% of evangelicals and 59% of Protestants from historically black churches believe ventilators should be reserved for those who are most in need, and doctors should not deny treatment based on age or health status.
  • Roughly 33% of evangelicals believe those most likely to survive aggressive treatment should be given priority access to ventilators.
  • Catholics are more evenly split on the question, with 53% saying ventilators should go to those who need them, while 42% say they should be available for those who are most likely to recover.

Go deeper: Wartime manufacturing muscle might not solve ventilator shortage

Go deeper