• Public policy;
  • Switzerland;
  • Agenda-setting;
  • Morality politics

Abstract:  Morality issues such as the death penalty, drug consumption, gambling, and same-sex-marriage often constitute intractable policy controversies. Classical “morality politics” scholars predict two types of governmental responses to such public problems: either a substantive policy design if there is a broad consensus among electoral constituencies or a non-decision if there is a fundamental clash of values. We argue that the adoption of a procedural policy design represents a third option. Providing empirical evidence on the plausibility of this hypothesis, we compare the Swiss regulation of four morality issues in the medical field: reproductive medicine and embryo-related research; abortion; euthanasia; and organ transplant. In fact, “moral values” frames are not always dominant, as the multi-dimensionality of each morality issue allows for concurrent policy frames promoted by various policy actors.