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Most Irish people want abortion decriminalised – Amnesty International poll

The vast majority of people in Ireland want abortion decriminalised and access expanded, a poll for Amnesty International has found.

The survey of people during the general election showed almost two thirds of people want politicians to show leadership and deal proactively with the controversial issue.

Colm O’Gorman, director of the human rights group in Ireland, said the incoming government is being told to make abortion reform a priority.

“This poll demonstrates yet again that on the issue of abortion, Ireland’s people are way ahead of their political leaders,” he said.

“The incoming government cannot ignore the fact that the vast majority of Irish people want women’s human rights to be respected. It must prioritise the expansion of access to abortion in Ireland without delay.”

The survey by Red C found:

:: 69% of people called for expansion of Ireland’s abortion law to be a priority issue for the next government, when “don’t knows” and those who were neutral are excluded.

:: 68% described the ban on abortion as “cruel and inhumane”, also when undecideds and neutrals are excluded.

:: Politicians, anti-abortion groups, media and church leaders are the least trusted sources of information on the issue.

:: 87% of people want access to abortion expanded and 72% want it decriminalised.

:: More than half of people agreed that Ireland’s abortion laws are cruel and inhumane.

Amnesty said there were progressive views on abortion across all regions and socio-economic groups.

It said the survey showed two thirds of people think it is hypocritical for the constitution to ban abortion in Ireland while it is legal for women to travel abroad for the procedure.

Amnesty said the research showed almost three quarters of people surveyed believe that the fact that women must travel for abortions unfairly discriminates against those who cannot afford to or are unable to travel.

Mr O’Gorman said: “Almost three-quarters of respondents believe the government should hold a referendum to allow people an opportunity to vote on whether or not to remove the Eighth Amendment.”

In the election campaign Labour vowed to hold a referendum on the constitutional ban, as did Sinn Fein.

Mr O’Gorman added: “Despite the dishonest efforts of many opposed to reform, the poll found that 80% of people are aware that women have a right to access abortion in certain circumstances under international human rights law. This is an increase of 10% on polling we ran in 2015.”

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The survey also found that of those in favour of expanding access to abortion in Ireland, 7% want it limited to fatal foetal abnormalities.

The Red C poll was conducted on the first three days of February and again from February 18-22 with more than 1,000 adults randomly selected each time.

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