Sunday 19 May 2019

New Amnesty International poll shows majority of Irish people in favour of legalising abortion

Colm O'Gorman
Colm O'Gorman

Cormac Fitzgerald

Two thirds of Irish people are in favour of decriminalising abortion, according to a new Amnesty International poll.

As well as this, over 80 per cent of people are in favour of widening the scope for legal abortion in Ireland.

The poll follows the launch of Amnesty International’s 'My Body My Rights' campaign last month which advocates for a change to Ireland’s abortion rates.

Read more here: Abortion debate has much to learn from equality referendum 

“It is clear that Irish views on abortion have undergone a major transformation,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International.”

“People in Ireland are now, on the whole, more understanding of the situations women find themselves in and firmly believe that women should not be criminalised for having an abortion,” he said.

Other figures from the poll show that over half of people questioned didn’t know that it was a criminal offence for a woman to have an abortion in Ireland if her life isn’t at risk. And only 10 per cent of people questioned knew that a woman found to have had an illegal abortion in Ireland faces a 14 year prison sentence.

Read more here: Anger as 20,000 abortion activists go head-to-head 

“This poll demonstrates that on the issue of abortion Ireland’s people are clearly way ahead of their government leaders,” said Mr. O’Gorman. “The conversation we urgently need in Ireland on abortion is a challenging one, but it must happen.”

Other important figures include from the poll include:

* 68 per cent of people think that Ireland’s abortion law doesn’t stop most women from having an abortion if they want one.

* 65 per cent of people agreed that that Ireland’s abortion laws make women have unsafe abortions.

* 70 per cent of people believed that a woman has a human right to an abortion in the case of rape and incest.

* 71 per cent agreed that classifying abortion as a crime contributes to the distress and stigma felt by women who have had abortions.

Following the poll, Amnesty International have once again called on the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment, which gives the equal right of life to the mother and the unborn child in Ireland and makes abortion illegal in most circumstances.

“The Irish Government should put this issue to the people as a matter of priority,” said Mr. O’Gorman. “Decriminalising abortion is not only a human rights obligation – it is what people in Ireland want. And this means repealing the 8th Amendment.”

Responding to the poll, Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute questioned its validity and said that awareness and proper support for people were needed.

“That's how we defend the human rights of both mother and baby,” said Ms Uí Bhriain.

The poll was conducted by Red C and was made up of 1,000 phone interviews with Irish people in May.

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