New Poll Reveals Irish Public Want Access to Abortion to Be a Political Priority for Incoming Government
A new poll conducted by Amnesty International and RED C Research and Marketing shows that an incredible 63% of people believe that Irish politicians should show leadership and deal proactively with access to abortion in Ireland.
The poll, part of which was run in the final days of the general election campaign, found that the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland want access to abortion expanded (87%) and abortion decriminalised (72%). When ‘don’t knows’ and those who were neutral were excluded, 69% want this to be one of the incoming government’s priorities. Interestingly, on many questions, there were progressive views on abortion across all regions and socio-economic groups. 80% of respondents believe that women’s health must be the priority in any reform of Ireland’s abortion law. This view was most strongly supported among farmers (90%) and people in Connaught/Ulster (85%). With rare exceptions, gender does not play a significant role in people’s opinion.
A large majority of people (665) also highlighted the hypocrisy banning abortion but still permitting women to travel for one. A further 72% shared the belief that allowing women to travel for an abortion unfairly discriminates against those who cannot afford. More than half of the poll respondents referred to the Irish abortion laws as “cruel and inhumane”.
Contrary to what might have been assumed, people’s religion did not significantly impact on their views on abortion.
In fact, 82% of those who consider themselves religious agreed that their religious views should not be imposed on others. Only one in five people who consider themselves to be religious say that they have “very conflicted” views on abortion because of their religion. Strikingly, 13% of those opposed to abortion in all circumstances shared this view. 28% of those who favour some expansion to abortion access agreed that they hide it because of their perception of how people who share their religion would feel about them.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, commented:
“This poll demonstrates yet again, that on the issue of abortion, Ireland’s people are way ahead of their political leaders. Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe the government should hold a referendum to allow people an opportunity to vote on whether or not to remove the Eighth Amendment. In most instances, our polling found substantial support for expanding access to abortion across all parts of Ireland – for instance, support for decriminalising abortion is highest in Munster (75% compared to national average of 71%).”
Last May, Enda Kenny stated that there would not be a referendum on abortion in the lifetime of the previous government.
“I do not believe that this house should be rushed into making a decision … This requires the most careful consideration by whoever is elected …There won’t be a referendum on this in the lifetime of this government.”
And despite confirming that he does not “believe in abortion on demand,” he recently said that if Fine Gael is re-elected to government it would, within six months, set up a forum similar to the Constitutional Convention to consider the matter.