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New opinion poll on abortion

By April 18, 2001News

– Release date: 19 April 2001

The IFPA (Irish Family Planning Association) has welcomed publication today of a new Lansdowne Market Research national opinion poll which indicates high levels of support for legislation to permit abortion here in certain circumstances. Almost two thirds of those questioned support access to abortion in Ireland for some or all of the women currently having abortions in England.

The poll also indicates, very clearly, that the type of Referendum now being discussed in Government circles has very little public support .

The opinion poll was commissioned by "Abortion Reform" a broad based grouping which promotes reasoned discussion of the Abortion Issue, and was carried out independently by Lansdowne Market Research. The IFPA is a member of Abortion Reform.

The IFPA believes that the results of this poll should lead the Government to an abandonment of any plans to hold a referendum as envisaged by the Fianna Fail members of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution. That Committee's Report fails to reflect public opinion on the issue of Abortion and now lacks credibility. The very options overlooked by the Committee, but included in the Green Paper, are those that can attract public support and which seek to address the daily realty of Irish abortion.

"Time for Taoiseach to stop shadow dancing on referendum"

Commenting on the poll findings IFPA Chief Executive Tony O'Brien today said:
"In this important new poll respondents were asked to choose between the three options being canvassed by the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution. The questions were not theoretical, this poll presented respondents with the real currently available policy options. It is therefore very significant that the referendum now being promoted by Fianna Fáil members of the committee received the support of only 17 per cent of respondents.

The idea that we should now hold a re-run of the 1992 and 1983 referenda simply does not have public support. Such a poll, if conducted, would be doomed to failure and could achieve nothing. The Taoiseach should send a clear signal that such a referendum will not now be held and bring his shadow dance on this issue to a close.

"Many of the options rejected by the committee, options which had been carefully and apolitically analysed by the public servants who prepared the Green Paper on Abortion, secured very high levels of support in this poll. For example, 41% favoured allowing abortion in Ireland where the continuation of a pregnancy would cause irreparable damage to the health of the woman. In the case of rape or incest, 47% favoured allowing abortion in Ireland. This calls into question the validity of the Committee’s verbose but evasive Report. Asked about allowing women who go to England for abortions to have those abortions here, 22% said all of those abortions should be permitted in Ireland and a further 40% said that some of those abortions should be permitted in Ireland.

"The idea of holding another pro-life neverendum is clearly ludicrous and serves only to distract from the daily reality of Irish Abortion. The Government should now recognise that this option is dead in the water. Legislation to give effect to the Supreme Court ruling in the X Case should now be introduced without delay and the progressive options discussed in the Green Paper should be freshly examined."