Poll: Overwhelming support for amending/abolishing Ireland’s strict abortion laws


The changes in the Republic from just a generation ago are profound. Today the Irish Times poll produces some remarkable figures showing support for abolition of the controversial Eight Amendment to the Irish Constitution, added in 1983 to prevent the casual legalisation of abortion in any form.

, , , ,

  • Katyusha

    It’s only overwhelming support for reforming the law. I think we can expect popular support for safe and legal abortion in cases of, for example, fatal foetal abnormalities or rape. That does not equate to support for abortion on demand, for which the polls show similar support as for retaining the current laws (which are apparently so backward and obsolete that they must urgently be changed, to listen to campaigners on the issue or liberal commentators in the UK). Even if we do amend the law around abortion, abortion law in Ireland is going to remain extremely strict.

    Anyway, in light of the feminist narrative that surrounds the abortion debate, this is interesting.

    There was no major difference in opinion between men and women on the issue with women marginally more in favour in retaining the blanket prohibition on abortion. Women were also less inclined than men to favour a liberal abortion regime on the British model.

  • Muiris

    I am of a generation that would anathemise abortion.

    However, our current laws are like Pilote’s washing of his hands, as there is open access next door. Were it not so, there would be women dying from ‘back street abortions’ in the cities and towns of Ireland. There is no virtue in a policy which depends on Britain to mitigate it’s costs.

    There is also a change in medical practice, in recent decades, with all pregnant women having ( repeated) scans, and other investigations. So fatal foetal anomalies are detected more often, and earlier, than heretofore.

    It can be neither Christian nor humane to tell a woman that her baby is going to die, but expect her to continue to carry that baby for several months.

    So I am in, what is for me an almost unique position, of being with the majority on this issue. The ‘devil is in the detail’ of course, as to how ‘limited’ is ‘limited abortion’

  • chrisjones2

    Tell that to our AG

  • Roger

    I’d say if they abolish the constitutional protection for the unborn it won’t be long till abortion practice in ireland is much the same as in uk. Whether that’s a good or bad thing or not.

  • hgreen

    Excellent news. Hopefully we’ll see legislation catching up with public opinion as per the equal marriage debate.

  • Katyusha

    I think you are correct, and there are certainly those within the “Repeal the Eighth” movement who view the legalisation of abortion in specific cases, where they can muster public support, as the thin end of the wedge by which they mean to force through the introduction of abortion on demand.

    Well, FFA is one thing, and maybe it can be legislated for while maintaining the commitment to the right to life of the unborn. Legislating for rape, however, is going to be messy and I feel it is the top of a slippery slope. Even if, in principle, it has popular support, it will be almost impossible to implement.
    For one, it requires the removal of the right to life of the unborn.
    For another, such a law would be almost impossible to apply in practice. Would it be necessary for a the perpetrator to be convicted before an abortion can be legalised? Within 24 weeks? What about cases where the rape allegation is false, perhaps only brought to court in order to obtain a legal abortion? There would almost certainly be cases where women declare that they should be entitled to an abortion because of x, y, z, events, but the legal system does not grant it, which is only going to lead to more acrimony and bad blood; a situation that would be resolved by making abortion freely available to all with no burden of proof that the pregnancy was a result of rape.

    Also far as I’m aware, the 1967 Abortion Act that legalised abortion in GB was not intended to introduce abortion on demand, but only if the health of the mother or the child was at risk. The practical outworking of the law, however, was very different – a good example of how useful constitutional protection of the right to life has been against such de facto liberalisation.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Foetal extortion.
    Cathologicaly it’s caution.
    A bad excuse for murder.

  • woodkerne

    Also in today’s Irish Times, Polish women demonstrate how to overcome the conservatism of an overwhelmingly catholic, male legislature through extra-parliamentary means. Their victory is limited, however, indicating how much more needs to be done before universal human emancipation is achieved in that country. Although discredited, the entrenched interests of catholic Ireland will no doubt conduct a stout defence of the reactionary status quo around Article 8. It is surely a matter of time however before Irish legislators are likewise cajoled to concur with the consensus of civil society.