There is narrow support for abortion on request for women up to 12 weeks into pregnancy in the Republic of Ireland as the referendum approaches, a Sky Data poll has revealed.
Just under half of the Irish public – 47% – support legalising abortion for all women up to 12 weeks pregnant, while 37% oppose it. Some 11% answered that they didn’t know, while 6% preferred not to say.
The question was not asked as a referendum question and should not be considered to measure voting intention.
The referendum considers whether to repeal a constitutional amendment which states that a foetus has an equal right to life as its mother.
In practice, this means a woman can only have an abortion in Ireland if the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.
The Irish government has said it intends to legislate to allow unrestricted abortion for women up to 12 weeks pregnant if the country votes Yes – to repeal the amendment.
Opinion polls in Ireland have consistently shown a significant lead for the Yes campaign.
However, a poll for Ipsos MRBI for the Irish Times has previously shown 30% of Yes voters think unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks goes “too far”.
Religious faith will play a critical role as polling day approaches.
Catholics are split on the subject, with 45% supporting abortion up to 12 weeks and 40% opposed, contrasting with 69% support and 26% opposition amongst those with no religion.
And Catholics are the most likely to be undecided – 15% answering don’t know or preferring not to say, against 5% of those with no religion.
People who know someone who has had an abortion are strongly in favour of legalisation, 52% to 33%, with those who have not evenly divided with 42% supporting, 40% opposed.
Young people are far more in favour than their elders – 18-34s support legalising abortion up to 12 weeks 54% to 20%, while those aged 55 and over opposed it 45% to 41%.
People with a degree (57% support) favour legalisation more strongly than those without (44% support).
Interestingly, women are no more likely to support legalising abortion up to 12 weeks than men – 47% of women are in favour, 38% opposed, against 48% and 36% respectively for men.
And perhaps ominously for pollsters, people who say they are uncomfortable talking about abortion in public are firmly opposed 46% to 30%, while those who say they are comfortable support 57% to 34%.
Support for legalising abortion was far higher in specific circumstances. Three in four (75%) support legalising abortion where the woman is pregnant due to rape, with just 11% opposed; 52% support and 28% oppose legalising abortion where the child is disabled and would require lifelong care; and 55% support and 30% oppose if the pregnancy will cause non-life-threatening health problems for the mother.
One in 10 Irish people think men should not be allowed to vote in the referendum, with 79% saying they should, and 28% think people born in Ireland should not be allowed to vote in the referendum, while 66% say they should.
Sky Data interviewed a nationally representative sample of 977 Sky customers in the Republic of Ireland. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
For full Sky Data tables, please click here.