Backing for repeal to fade during campaign, say anti-abortion group

Pro-choice campaign hails ‘public support’ for abortion under certain circumstances

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said once the implications of amending the current law become clear over the course of a referendum people will change their minds. Photograph: The Irish Times

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said once the implications of amending the current law become clear over the course of a referendum people will change their minds. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Public support for abortion in cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality as outlined in today’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll will recede once a referendum is called, an anti-abortion group has claimed.

The survey of 1,200 voters carried out earlier this week revealed that 67 per cent of those polled would support access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rising to 72 per cent where the woman’s mental health is at serious risk and 76 per cent for cases of rape.

Responding to the findings Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said once the implications of amending the current law become clear over the course of a referendum people will change their minds.

“I would be confident when people reflect on what dismantling the Eighth Amendment would actually lead to in practice, support for retaining it will grow quickly,” she said.

“The clear lesson from the Citizens’ Assembly is that once you start singling out certain unborn babies as unworthy of legal protection, then in effect you are saying that unborn human life in general has no intrinsic value,” added Ms Sherlock.

Meanwhile pro-choice groups say the results show there is a definite appetite for liberalising the State’s current abortion regime.

Abortion Rights Campaign spokeswoman Angela Coraccio said the poll shows “huge public support” for a change to abortion laws and that support for access to abortion on certain grounds has increased in recent months.

However, Ms Coraccio warned that the only way to prevent women being asked to prove a claim of pregnancy through rape in front of a specialist panel or the courts under a new regime is to allow for “free, safe and legal” access.

“Those who wish to see real and realistic access to abortion in cases of rape should know that the only way to achieve that is the introduction of free, safe and legal abortion access.

“In reality, unless rape victims can access abortion without having to jump through hoops, they will continue to travel or take desperate measures outside the law to end their pregnancies,” she said.

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, the constitutional clause which affords equal status to the life of the mother and the unborn, called for the immediate convening of an Oireachtas committee to examine the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on the topic of abortion.

While support among members of the public for the extension of grounds of abortion remains strong according to this latest poll, just 23 per cent of voters want to see unlimited access to abortion.