Abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy backed by 48pc
Almost half of voters (48pc) are supportive of proposals to legislate for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll.
The majority of those polled are also supportive of abortion in distress scenarios such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities. However, in a possibly ominous sign for repeal supporters, there has been a softening of support in these cases.
Two in five voters (40pc) said the introduction of legislation to allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks is "about right", while 8pc said it does not go far enough.
However, a third of voters (33pc) believe the proposal from the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment goes "too far". The findings also show one in five has yet to make up their mind on the question, meaning the referendum outcome is far from certain.
Fine Gael voters are most supportive of the 12-week proposal, while Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail voters are almost evenly split on introducing unrestricted abortion for the first three months of pregnancy. More urban (43pc) than rural (36pc) voters said 12 weeks was "about right" when asked about new laws.
Almost two-thirds (63pc) of people polled said they favoured holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.
Less than a quarter (24pc) said that they were against holding a vote and 13pc said they did not know.
The poll of 970 people carried out between February 6 and 14 found the majority of people support abortion in distress scenarios such as fatal foetal abnormalities, rape, incest or a mother's health.
However, there has been a softening of support for abortion in all categories.
More than half (55pc) said abortion should be allowed when there is a threat of a mother taking her own life. However, this is down five points from 60pc from a poll published in November 2015. Almost a quarter (23pc) are against abortion in this scenario. Similarly, there was a five-point drop in support to 63pc for abortion in cases where there is a medical risk to a woman's health other than suicide.
A clear majority (65pc) are in favour of abortion in incidents where a woman is raped but this is again a drop of three points on the last poll. There was a six-point drop to 58pc in support for abortion in cases where there is a long-term threat to a woman's health.
More than half (54pc) of voters said they are in favour of abortion where a child has been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality which is down one point from the previous survey.
Those against abortion in these cases increased two points to 23pc. A majority (65pc) are also in favour of abortion in cases where the mother has been raped, but this is down three points. The poll found 17pc are against abortion in rape cases.