The findings of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll confirm there is wide public support for a more liberal abortion regime than that provided for in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
As well as being asked for their views about the legislation, voters were also questioned about the circumstances in which abortion should be permitted. In five specific sets of circumstances voters said abortion should be permitted but they drew the line at allowing it where a woman deemed it to be in her best interests.
Unsurprisingly the biggest majority – 89 per cent – said abortion could be permitted where a woman’s life is at risk, with 6 per saying it should not and 5 per cent having no opinion.
Surprisingly there was more than 80 per cent support for allowing abortion to take place in two other limited circumstances. On the question of whether abortion should be permitted in cases where the foetus is not capable of surviving outside the womb, 83 per cent said it should, with 8 per cent saying it should not and 9 per cent having no opinion.
Abuse and rape
Some 81 per cent said abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or abuse, with 10 per cent saying it should not and 9 per cent having no opinion.
On the question of whether abortion should be permitted where a woman’s health is at risk, 78 per cent said it should, 12 per cent said it should not and 9 per cent had no view.
However, on the issue of suicide there was a bigger difference of opinion among voters, with 52 per cent saying it should be allowed, 29 per cent saying it should not and 19 per cent having no opinion.
A majority of voters were against allowing abortion where a woman deemed it to be in her best interests – 46 per cent said it should not be allowed in these circumstances, 39 per cent said it should and 15 per cent had no opinion.
In response to the range of questions, those aged over 65 were most inclined to oppose abortion in such circumstances, while those aged 25-34 were most in favour.
In social class terms, the best-off AB group was the most strongly in favour of abortion in the limited circumstances specified, with farmers being the least strongly in favour, followed by the DE category.
On the suicide issue, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporters had the greatest concerns while Labour voters were most strongly in favour. 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.