A new poll carried out on behalf of Amnesty International shows that 67 percent of the Irish public want the act of abortion to be decriminalized.
Ireland has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world. Amnesty believes that the Irish government will, following the publication of their poll's results, feel pressure to reform these laws.
The poll shows that the vast majority of the Irish public disagree with the current criminal sanctions for women who have abortions – or doctors who provide abortions.
Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalize abortion, 67 percent agreed and 25 percent disagreed. Eighty-one percent are in favor of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.
- 64 percent of people did not know it is a crime to get an abortion in Ireland when a woman’s life is not at risk
- Less than one in 10 (9 percent) knew the penalty for having an unlawful abortion in Ireland is up to 14 years imprisonment
- Only 7 percent agreed that women should be imprisoned for up to 14 years for having an unlawful abortion
- Only 13 percent of people agreed that doctors should be imprisoned for up to 14 years for performing an unlawful abortion
- 71 percent agreed that classifying abortion as a crime contributes to the distress and stigma felt by women who have had abortions
- 65 percent of respondents agreed Ireland’s abortion ban makes women have unsafe abortion
- 68 percent agree that Ireland’s abortion ban does not stop most women who want an abortion from having one.
“Only a third of Irish people polled were aware that it is a criminal offence for a woman to access abortion here unless her life is at risk. Even with the long debate over Ireland’s 2013 abortion law, less than one in 10 were aware that a woman who has an abortion could face a 14-year prison sentence.
“This poll demonstrates that on the issue of abortion Ireland’s people are clearly way ahead of their government leaders. The conversation we urgently need in Ireland on abortion is a challenging one, but it must happen. The Irish Government should put this issue to the people as a matter of priority. Decriminalizing abortion is not only a human rights obligation – it is what people in Ireland want. And this means repealing the 8th Amendment.”
The survey carried out by Red C poll questioned 1,000 people and was taken from May 11 to 14 2015.
However, the Pro Life Campaign today told TheJournal.ie that O’Gorman’s claim about a change in attitude “does not stand up to closer scrutiny.”
Deputy Chairperson Cora Sherlock said similar poll findings were published before, as far back as 1997 but when the Irish public came to vote in 2002 the outcome was quite different.
She also took issue with the reference to the 14 year jail sentence saying, “Amnesty Ireland knows perfectly well that women are not prosecuted for having abortions. If anyone is likely to be prosecuted it would be the practicing abortionist who breaks the law.”
“Amnesty is purposely trying to create an impression that Irish women run the risk of going to jail if they opt for an abortion but they very conveniently fail to point out that similar sanctions exist in other European countries but, just like in Ireland, women are never prosecuted.”
Another Pro Life campaigner Niamh Uí Bhriain told UTV Ireland Amnesty's support of abortion was being pushed through the survey.
Uí Bhriain said, “I think this is Amnesty International playing games with polls.”
She continued, “I very much think Amnesty has become a pro-abortion group. I think it is appalling to see what Amnesty has become, they have now chosen to completely disregard the rights of the unborn.”
On Saturday an estimated 25,000 people marched in Dublin in support of the Pro Life campaign. Organizers said the theme and aim of this year's march, titled 'Rally for Life,' was to speak up for babies with a disability. It was being organized by Youth Defence, the Life Institute, and Precious Youth.