Poll finds majority support for abortion on request

Amnesty International has warned that Irish society is outsourcing care and compassion for women

A new poll has found that 60% of people support access to abortion on request.

The Red C poll for Amnesty International also found that this increases to 85% when the pregnancy comes as a result of rape.

A referendum on the issue is due to be held next year.

The poll found that, when the 4% who have no opinion are discounted, six out of ten people support access to abortion on request, either outright or within specific gestational limits.

Com O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland said there are two main sides in the debate:

“There is the side to this debate that recognises that women should be able to make decisions about their own health care without the opinions or morals or views of other people being forced upon them through force of law,” he said.

“And there is the side of the debate that believes that women should be criminalised for making these decisions.”

The poll also found that 85% of people support access to abortion services in the case of rape.

Almost nine in ten support abortion when the woman's health is at risk, with 81% voicing support where there is a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

“Irish people do not want to see our society outsourcing care and compassion for women and girls at a particularly critical point in their lives,” said Mr O’Gorman. “At a time when they need care and support.”

“They want it to be given here in Ireland and not see ten to 12 women and girls getting on flights to the UK to access abortion care in the UK.”

Available on request

The Red C poll was based on the same ballot wording put to the Citizen’s Assembly in April.

Asked whether abortion should be “Available on request, without restriction as to reasons”:

  • 40% of respondents said “never”
  • 26% said up to 12 weeks gestation
  • 13% said up to 22 weeks gestation
  • 21% said it should be available without any gestational limits

Mr O’Gorman noted that while public support varies on the precise gestational limits, it remains “solidly behind women making their own decisions about their pregnancies.”

“In light of this poll, public representatives must seriously question the assumptions and prevailing narratives which lead them to think people in Ireland do not support wide-ranging reform,” he said.

“While public opinion should never excuse states’ violating women’s rights, the Irish public is firmly in favour of women’s bodily and reproductive autonomy.

“The Government, Oireachtas and all political parties must recognise this reality, and put forward a framework for access to abortion which put women’s health, human rights and autonomy at its core.”

Survey

The Red C poll surveyed the opinions of 1,000 adults in late October.

Only 4% of people polled declined to give an opinion, highlighting the fact that views on the issue of abortion remain very strong.

The poll found that public support is broadly consistent across all age groups, regions and demographics.