Wednesday 28 September 2016

87pc of people in favour of making abortion more widely available - poll

Published 04/03/2016 | 10:00

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A new poll has revealed 87pc of people are in favour of making abortion more widely available- but they do not all agree on how far to push the boundaries.

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The Red C poll, commissioned by Amnesty, found 80pc of this group would be in favour of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland in cases of rape or incest.

The same number would also support abortion where a woman's life or health are at risk.

However, 7pc of those in favour of widening the grounds want to go no further than extending it to women who seek a termination in cases where their unborn baby has been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

Just 38pc in favour of change want to see the law liberalised to the point where abortion is freely available to women as they choose.

Some 5pc of people are opposed to abortion in all circumstances.

Launching the results ,Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the poll was carried out in the final days of the general election campaign.

The proposed repeal of the Eight Amendment will be among the major challenges facing the next government.

Abortion is legal here where there is a risk to the life of the mother, including suicide. But many say this does not go far enough.

"This poll reveals that, far from this being a divisive issue as some suggest, people in Ireland are clear and solid in their support of increased access to abortion.

"There is an evidently broad consensus on the urgent need to reform Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws. This is true across all demographics and regions. It is time for our newly elected legislators to recognise this reality, move beyond the myth of a divided society on this issue and legislate to respect rights of women and girls,” he said.

The results show that when the "don't knows and those who are neutral" are excluded:

69pc say expansion of the law must be a priority for the next government.

90pc believe that women’s health must be the priority as part of any reform .

68pc describe current law as “cruel and inhumane”

Politicians, anti-abortion groups, media and church leaders are the least trusted sources of information on this issue

Some 66pc consider it “hypocritical” that the Constitution bans abortion here but allows women to travel abroad for one.

72pc believe that the fact that women must travel for abortions unfairly "discriminates against those who cannot afford to or are unable to travel.”

Mr O' Gorman said:“Despite the dishonest efforts of many opposed to reform, the poll found that 80% of people are aware that women have a right to access abortion in certain circumstances under international human rights law.

"This is an increase of 10% on polling we ran in 2015.The incoming government cannot ignore the fact that the vast majority of Irish people want women’s human rights to be respected. It must prioritise the expansion of access to abortion in Ireland without delay"

Half those polled  feel they do not know enough about the Eighth Amendment to know how they would vote and would like the media to give more information on it, particularly outside Dublin.

Only 14pc of respondents were aware that having an abortion when the woman’s life is not in danger is a criminal offence which carries a potential 14 year prison sentence.

Of the 5pc of people who are opposed to abortion in all circumstances, 77pc are not aware that this 14 year criminal penalty exists.

Mr O' Gorman added: “Given the failure of successive Irish governments to implement meaningful reform of Ireland’s abortion law, it is perhaps unsurprising then that our poll found that just 7pc of respondents trust politicians to inform them on this issue.

"On a separate question as to whether we should trust women when they say they need an abortion regardless of the circumstances, 68pc of respondents agreed we should. It is time for an Irish government to start trusting Irish women to make decisions about their reproductive lives."

Eight in ten of those who consider themselves religious agreed that their religious views should not be imposed on others.  Only one in five people (20pc) who consider themselves to be religious say that they have “very conflicted” views on abortion because of their religion. 13pc of those opposed to abortion in all circumstances shared this view.

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