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Survey finds 82 per cent in Republic back legal abortion in certain cases

Published 03/12/2012

John Manley

MORE than four out of five voters in the Republic favour legalising abortion in certain cases, an opinion poll has found.

The Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post found 85 per cent of voters said they supported laws that would allow an abortion where the mother's life was threatened, including by suicide.

The poll of 1,000 people across the south comes weeks after the death of Savita Halappanavar (31), the Indian dentist who died in a Galway hospital after a miscarriage.

Her husband Praveen said she would still be alive if she had not been denied an abortion.

Her death has put increased pressure on the Irish government to introduce new laws and guidelines governing abortion.

The Red C poll result suggests the electorate would like any changes to go further than what the Fine Gael-controlled coalition is expected to introduce.

The poll also found that 82 per cent supported extending abortion to all cases where the woman's health was seriously threatened and in cases of rape.

Only 36 per cent of those sampled voiced support for a constitutional amendment to allow an abortion in any case where a woman requested it.

The Republic's Supreme Court ruled on the X case 20 years ago, establishing the right to abortion where the mother's life was threatened, including by suicide.

The court's ruling has never been enshrined in law.

The Pro Life Campaign said the poll results were unreliable.

"I think it's very clear that there is no basis for using this poll to claim that there is any sort of majority of people who want abortion legislation in Ireland because the contradictions that are coming through in the poll are just too evident," campaign deputy chairwoman Cora Sherlock said.

"It is too unreliable. There is a clear contradiction there - some people want legislation for X and some people want a referendum to amend X."

She said the poll results highlighted the "very high level of public confusion on the issue".

The poll also indicated that Fine Gael had suffered a six-point drop in support since last month to 28 per cent, its lowest Red C rating since 2008.

Labour support increased slightly to 14 per cent.

Fianna Fail rose slightly to 20 per cent, its highest rating since October 2010.

Sinn Fein support remained unchanged at 17 per cent while independents and others were up four points to 21 per cent. ■ CAMPAIGN: Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign dismissed the results of a survey on attitudes to abortion