Campaigners say abortion poll shows people are 'very keen to see change'

38% of respondents to a new poll suggested they support replacing the 8th Amendment as opposed to scrapping it

Campaigners say abortion poll shows people are 'very keen to see change'

File photo.

Pro-choice campaigners say a new poll proves Ireland wants change in our abortion laws.

The Ipsos MRBI survey in today's Irish Times asked voters how they felt about repealing the 8th Amendment - the section of the constitution which protects the right to life of the unborn.

1,200 voters over the age of 18 were asked their opinions on abortion in face-to-face interviews on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

28% of respondents said the amendment should be repealed so the Dáil is given the power to legislate for terminations.

However, 38% suggested they support replacing the 8th as opposed to scrapping it if the replacement would provide better access to abortion.

16% said they do not want the amendment to be repealed, while 12% said they are not sure. The remaining 6% did not choose any option in the poll.

The Citizen's Assembly is set to continue considering the issue when it meets again this weekend.

The Irish Times / Ipsos MRBI poll also asked respondents about the specific circumstances of abortion.

77% of people said terminations should be legal when a pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or child abuse, while 76% said it should be allowed in situations when the foetus will not survive outside the womb.

In contrast, 28% said abortions should be legal when a woman believes she would be unable to cope because of her age or circumstance, while only 11% said terminations should be legal in cases where the foetus is past 24 weeks.

Irish Times' political editor Pat Leahy explained the findings to Newstalk Breakfast, saying the poll offers 'welcome data' on what people want abortion laws changed to.

'People are very keen to see change'

The Coalition to Repeal the 8th says the poll shows people are thinking about how our regulations are impacting women directly.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Alibhe Smyth from the coalition welcomed the findings.

She explained: "I think what we see is that people are actually definitely very keen to see change, and that is the very key point. How that change comes about is perhaps the second question in a sense.

"There is a consistent majority of people in this country who do want to see the dilemma, the question, the issue of abortion being clarified and sorted out."

She added: "I think what's interesting in this poll is that I felt that I was seeing here the evidence of people actually thinking through what it is that women need. One of the key findings for me in this poll is that 63% of people are in favour of abortion being available to protect a woman's health."

She also suggested that her campaign believes the 8th Amendment should be entirely deleted from the Constitution.

"It has created an absolute quagmire for medics, for legal people, and most of all for women."

The Pro Life Campaign, meanwhile, said any effort to dismantle the 8th Amendment would render it "redundant and meaningless".

Dr Ruth Cullen of the campaign argued: “Polls on abortion have been notoriously confusing and contradictory going back many years. One thing however is clear from today’s poll - the public very definitely do not support the radical position on abortion being pushed by the ‘Repeal the 8th’ campaign.

“I have no doubt some groups campaigning for abortion would settle for a referendum wording that has the appearance of being restrictive but falls short of outright repeal of the Eighth Amendment," she suggested.