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New poll shows two thirds of population favour availability of abortion in Ireland

By April 18, 2001News

– Release date: 19 April 2001

For the first time, an opinion poll has asked the public what they think of the options set out by the three main political parties in the Report on Abortion published last November.

Results show very low support (17%) for the Fianna Fáil favoured option of a referendum which would ban abortion except where the pregnancy physically threatens the life of the woman.

A massive two-thirds of those polled (62%) said that they believe that all or some of the many Irish women who go to Britain for abortions should be allowed to have access to abortion in Ireland. Of those, 22% indicated that all women and girls who have to travel to Britain each year for terminations should be able to access abortion care here in Ireland.

Last year, there were over 6000 women giving Irish addresses in British abortion clinics, the real figure is probably higher due to non-disclosure of real home addresses.

There is also significant support for options outlined in the Green Paper on Abortion but overlooked in the Abortion Report. Almost half of those surveyed (47%) believe that abortion should be allowed in Ireland in the case of rape or incest.

41% believe that women should not have to travel for an abortion if her health was to be irreparably damaged by her pregnancy continuing, in comparison to only 14% support in the Irish Times / MRBI poll of December 1997 at the time of the C-Case.

According to Anne Marlborough of Abortion Reform:
"This research shows that there is no popular support for a so-called 'pro-life' referendum. Pressing ahead with another referendum would be deeply unpopular with the electorate. Instead of repeating the mistakes of the failed 1992 referendum, the government should immediately introduce legislation on the basis of the X-Case.

"This is an opportunity to shine a light on those aspects of abortion that the ordinary people of Ireland are concerned with. The fact that nearly half of those surveyed favour the provision of abortion care in Ireland to women and children who have suffered rape and incest clearly demonstrates how out of touch the All-Party Committee was when they issued the options favoured by their parties on how to deal with Irish abortion."

This poll was different from other recently conducted polls because those questioned were given a range of options to choose from rather than being asked to agree or disagree with one statement.

In this poll, the public were asked to state their preference between the options favoured by the three main political parties on how to resolve the issue of abortion. They were asked in which, if any, circumstances abortion should be permitted in Ireland in line with the options outlined in the Green Paper and they were asked whether all, some or none of the many Irish women who travel to Britain for an abortion should have access to abortion in Ireland.

Lansdowne Market Research conducted this poll on behalf of Abortion Reform asking a nationally representative sample of 1122 people aged 15+ questions about Irish abortion.

Interviewing took place between 8th and 20th March 2001

LANSDOWNE MARKET RESEARCH ABORTION REFORM TOPLINE RESULTS

Q.1
The Government are currently considering three alternatives regarding the issue of abortion. Of the three alternatives on this card, which would be your preferred choice, if you had to choose one?
Base: All Adults 15+ (1200)

A) Leave the existing legal situation as it is, where a woman is entitled to have an abortion only where her life is put at risk by her pregnancy, whether for physical reasons or because of the risk of suicide, but where there is no legislation setting out the procedures to allow her to access that entitlement. 36%

B) Introduce legislation setting out the procedures to enable a woman to access an abortion where her life is at risk for physical reasons or because of the risk of suicide. 36%

C) An amendment to the Constitution to prohibit abortion except where the pregnancy poses a physical threat to the life of the woman (i.e. abortion would no longer be permitted where pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a woman because of the risk of suicide). 17%

D) Refused. 12%

Q.2
In which, if any, of the following circumstances do you think that abortion should be allowed in Ireland?
Base: All Adults 15+ (1200)

A) When the woman’s life is physically at risk by the continuation of the pregnancy? 52%

B) When the woman is at risk of committing suicide if the pregnancy continues? 37%

C) When the continuation of the pregnancy would cause irreparable damage to the health of the woman? 41%

D) In the case of rape or incest? 47%

E) When the fetus is suffering from a disorder which is incompatible with life? 23%

F) For reasons such as family size, economic and social circumstances, the welfare of other children? 6%

G) Whenever a woman believes that for her, abortion is the correct choice to make? 19%

H) Abortion should not be available for any reason whatsoever. 16%

I) Don't Know. 5%

Q.3
Many Irish women go to Britain for abortions.
Do you think that all or some of these women should be allowed to have access to abortion in Ireland?

Base: All Adults 15+ (1200)

All 22%
Some 40%
None 31%
Refused 6%