Over 70% support X-case legislation on abortion


There is strong public support for the Government’s plan to legislate on abortion, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

It also shows that a substantial majority of voters back much wider access to abortion than that being proposed by the Government.

Asked if the Government should legislate for the 1992 X case to allow abortion where a mother’s life is in danger, including the threat of suicide, 71 per cent said Yes, 11 per cent said No and 18 per cent had no opinion.

Supporters of both Coalition parties strongly backed the proposal. It was also strongly backed by supporters of the two big Opposition parties, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, as well as the substantial bloc of voters who declared their support for smaller parties and Independents.

People over 65 and those in the 16-24 age group were less enthusiastic about the legislation than other age groups, while farmers and the poorest DE social group did not back the proposal as strongly as other social categories.


In regional terms Dublin was strongest in favour, with the rest of Leinster the least supportive of legislation.

Nonetheless, there were big majorities for legislation in all regions, social categories and age groups.

The survey was undertaken last Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

Asked a separate question about whether abortion should not be permitted under any circumstances or allowed in certain circumstances, 12 per cent said it should never be permitted, while 85 per cent said it should be allowed in certain circumstances.

When presented with five situations and asked if abortion should be permitted, 84 per cent said it should be allowed where a woman’s life is at risk.

Asked if abortion should be permitted in cases where the foetus is not capable of surviving outside the womb, 79 per cent said it should.

Rape and incest

Some 78 per cent said abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, while 70 per cent were in favour in cases where a woman’s health is at risk.

Finally, when asked if abortion should be permitted where a woman deems it to be in her best interest, 37 per cent said that it should.

There were some striking differences on these questions from people of different ages with those over 65 being most opposed to abortion in any circumstances and people from 35 to 49 being most in favour.

In social-class terms, the best-off AB group was the most strongly in favour of abortion, in certain circumstances with farmers being the least strongly in favour, followed by the DE category.

On the option of abortion being allowed where a woman deems it to be in her best interests, Fine Gael voters were the most strongly opposed, with just 27 per cent in favour.

In the 1992 X-case, the Supreme Court established that a woman had a right to an abortion if her life was at risk because of pregnancy, including the risk of suicide. The Government is planning legislation to give effect to this ruling.

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