Group disputes wide backing for abortion


The Pro-Life Campaign has said results from an opinion poll it commissioned challenge “the notion” that there is broad middle ground support for abortion in Ireland.

The group also argued opinion polls in which respondents were asked about abortion without defining what it meant could lead only to “uninformed answers”. Polls using lists of emotive circumstances tend to distort results, it said.

The campaign published the responses to two questions in a poll carried out for it by Millward Brown as the Government prepares legislation on abortion to give effect to the Supreme Court X case ruling in 1992. There will be ministerial regulations as well.

The first question was: “In current medical practice in Ireland, the doctor treats the expectant mother and her baby as two patients and does his/ her best to safeguard both in a crisis situation. Do you consider that this practice should be protected and safeguarded by law or not?”

Some 66 per cent of respondents answered Yes, 15 per cent said No and 19 per cent had no opinion. Some 81 per cent of the respondents expressing an opinion answered Yes.

The second question was: “Are you in favour of, or opposed to, constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion, but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life in accordance with Irish medical ethics?” Some 63 per cent of respondents answered Yes, 19 per cent said No and 18 per cent had no opinion. Some 77 per cent of those expressing an opinion said Yes.

Asked what the significance of such findings was, Pro-Life Campaign spokeswoman Seana Stafford said: “I think the poll challenges the notion that there is a broad middle ground support for abortion.” The poll was carried out in the second half of January with a nationally representative sample of 970 adults.

Government plan

Asked about other polls showing strong public support for the Government plan, John Smyth of the Pro-Life Campaign said its poll aimed to make the distinction between necessary medical treatment and abortion.

“Where that distinction is not made the public are left confused as to what exactly we’re talking about,” Mr Smyth said. “We feel our poll goes some way to clarifying that issue and therefore it gets a clearer snapshot of what public opinion is on the issue, based on that.”

The campaign released the poll results after conducting a briefing yesterday for TDs and Senators in a hotel adjacent to Leinster House.