Last week a new poll by Amnesty International revealed that 63% of the Irish population support abortion reform.
The poll, part of which was run in the final days of the general election campaign, found that the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland want access to abortion expanded (87%) and abortion decriminalised (72%).
Despite the overwhelming support from the Irish public, Fine Gael have remained pretty much silent on the issue. Enda Kenny believes the issue is too sensitive for a referendum but are willing to set up a forum similar to the Constitutional Convention to consider the matter.
Here, student Rachel O’Neill pens an honest and heartfelt letter to the new government about the need for social reform.
Dear new Government,
The voice behind the Repeal the 8th campaign has been rising steadily over the last few years and it has been brought to the fore recently with women such as Roisin Ingle, Tara Flynn and even more recently Susan Cahill sharing their stories about their abortions. It seemed to me that the tide was turning and with parties like Labour promising to hold a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment, I thought maybe I’ll get to vote on my reproductive rights. I was wrong.
The real losers of this general election are women. The decimation of the Labour party has put abortion on the back burner yet again. How many times are we going to let this key issue be pushed back? Fine Gael promised to hold a citizens convention if they were elected but that was based on the premise that they would go back into government as the majority party. The fact that this is won’t happen now makes me worry about what happens next for the 8th amendment.
Abortion has always been an invisible issue for us. We pretend it isn’t there. We pretend not to notice the 12 women a day leaving our shores to go to England and the Netherlands to have an abortion. We pretend not to notice the clear abandonment of these women by our government and health system. We pretend not to notice that abortion is a tangible, real thing in this country. We have some the strictest laws regarding abortion in the world and yet we’re still talking about it because it’s still there. As much as politicians want us to think it’s an “invisible issue”, it isn’t.
“45% are in favour of allowing all women access to abortion in Ireland as they choose.”
The Irish Government is under growing pressure to reform its anti-abortion law, one of the most restrictive in the world, Amnesty International said today as it published results of an opinion poll on public attitudes to abortion in Ireland.
The poll, carried out for Amnesty International by RED C Research and Marketing, shows that the majority of people in Ireland are not aware that abortion is a criminal offence. The vast majority disagree with the current criminal sanctions for women who have abortions – or doctors who provide abortions.
Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalise abortion, 67% agreed and 25% disagreed. 81% are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:
“It is clear that Irish views on abortion have undergone a major transformation. People in Ireland are now, on the whole, more understanding of the situations women find themselves in and firmly believe that women should not be criminalised for having an abortion.
“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. Decriminalising abortion is not only a human rights obligation – it is what people in Ireland want. And this means repealing the 8th Amendment.”.
People aged 65 or over were the least aware that abortion is a criminal offence (82%). Those aged over 55 disagreed most with the possible 14 year jail term for women. Colm O’Gorman said: “This age group tends to be the least in favour of widening access to abortion, but clearly they have even greater awareness of the brutality of this penalty.”
Read full article: www.amnesty.ie