Over half agree that expanding access to abortion should be priority for next government

Amnesty International released research this morning on attitudes to abortion in Ireland

Just over half of Irish people agree that expanding access to abortion services should be one of the priorities for the next government.

The poll, released by Amnesty International this morning exclusively to Newstalk and conducted by Red C, examined attitudes of Irish people to abortion in Ireland.

The figures are in line with Newstalk's own Red C poll which was released last month on the 8th amendment and show the majority of people want to see change in regard to the laws that exist.

Key findings from the report

On whether the issue should become a priority for the next government, 63% agree that politicians need to show leadership and deal proactively with widening access to abortion.

The majority (80%) strongly agree that a woman's health should be the priority in any reform of Ireland’s abortion law.

Along with that, 72% agree that the fact that women must travel abroad to access abortion unfairly discriminates against women who cannot afford or are unable to travel abroad.

With organisations reporting that almost 4,000 Irish women take every year, 66% believe that it is hypocritical that Ireland’s constitution bans abortion in Ireland but allows women to travel abroad for abortions.

Meanwhile, over half (55%) agree that Ireland’s abortion ban is cruel and inhumane.

Earlier research

An earlier Red C research project from Amnesty found that medical professionals, and women who have had abortions are the most trusted sources of information when deciding on the subject of abortion.

Anti-abortion groups and church leaders do not hold a high level of trust. Politicians are the least trusted source.

That poll also found that there is a significant gap in awareness of the penalty of having an abortion in Ireland, more than half believe it is not a criminal offence.

71% of those who were polled believe the government should decriminalise abortion, which means removing the criminal penalty for women who have abortion in Ireland.

On top of that, 65% believe travelling abroad for an abortion is traumatic for a woman while two thirds of all adults agree that we need to trust women when they say they need an abortion.

Only 30% stated they cannot speak freely about their views on abortion because they fear being verbally attacked.

Close to 3 in 4 believe that there should be a referendum to allow people to vote on the removal or not of the 8th Amendment.

Further analysis

Out of the 55% who agree that expanding access to abortion should be one of the priorities for the next government, the region who polled highest was Dublin at 61% and at 56%, men are 1% more supportive than women. The age group 55-64 is the most supportive at 64%.

One of the statements which was strongly supported was that 80% agree that a woman's health should be the priority in any reform of Ireland’s abortion law. The age group 45-54 was the most supportive at 83% while 90% of farmers agreed with the statement.

In terms of the 72% who agree with the fact that women who must travel abroad to access abortion unfairly discriminates against women, Dublin polled highest but very closely followed by Munster at 76%.

Colm O'Gorman is the Executive Director of Amnesty in Ireland and he spoke to Pat Kenny this morning about the figures from the research, stating that this needs to be a priority for the next government.

*The Red C poll was conducted on behalf of Amnesty International. 1,002 adults aged 18 and over were sampled for the poll.