Two-thirds 'back abortion position'
Helen Hoban, Mary Murray, Winifred O'Brien, Tom Folliard and Veronica Freyn from Ballyhaunis at a large Pro Life demonstration Unite for Life Vigil which filled Merrion Square South in Dublin in January. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
More than six out of 10 people support current medical practice to treat a pregnant woman and her unborn baby as equals, a survey suggests.
The poll, for the Pro-Life Campaign, found 66 per cent are in favour of constitutional protection that bans abortion but allows medical intervention to save the life of a woman.
Caroline Simons, legal consultant to the organisation, said its findings showed a high level of support for current medical practice in Ireland.
"What marks these findings out from other research is the way important ethical distinctions are clarified," she said.
"A number of polls published recently citing support for abortion used the word 'abortion' in the question without defining just what it meant."
Some 970 adults were questioned last month for the survey, carried out by Millward Brown.
The Government announced plans in December to introduce a combination of legislation and regulation to legalise abortion as a last resort to save a woman's life.
The new laws will be drafted in accordance with the 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling on the X case, which allows for abortion when a woman's life is in danger, including from the threat of suicide.
The draft legislation is expected to be ready by Easter.
Professor William Binchy of the organisation said the results gave encouragement to the Pro-Life Campaign and its argument against introducing abortion for suicidal ideation, which he maintained was completely unsupported by medics.
"What these polls indicate are that people in this country support the view that in Irish hospitals all necessary medical treatment should be given to mothers and their children," he said.
"But in those circumstances they make absolutely sure that mothers will receive every treatment they need to preserve their life and that women will not die, even if this means the unborn child will die.
"In those circumstances the child dies as an unsought side- effect, there's so question of targeting the child.
"The Government at the moment are considering introducing legislation that will actually involve the direct targeting of the unborn child, and these polls give very strong evidence this is not what people want."
An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll this month suggested strong public support for the Government’s plan to legislate on abortion.
A substantial majority of voters questioned backed 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 from the threat of suicide, 71 per cent said Yes, 11 per cent said No and 18 per cent had no opinion.
Additional reporting: PA