Belfast Telegraph

Majority in Northern Ireland opposed to abortion law reform, survey finds

Thousands of people stage a silent demonstration at Stormont over the planned liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland (PA)
Thousands of people stage a silent demonstration at Stormont over the planned liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland (PA)
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

An internet opinion poll has found a slim majority of people in Northern Ireland are opposed to the forthcoming reform of abortion laws.

The study was commissioned by the anti-abortion group Both Lives Matter, which said the findings highlight increasing public frustration over the impact caused by the current political impasse.

Should there be no return to power-sharing at Stormont by October 21, abortion will be decriminalised in Northern Ireland.

The poll conducted by Belfast research group LucidTalk examined 1,424 responses, weighted to represent Northern Irish society, to a survey conducted over three days at the end of September.

It asked respondents if they supported the changes voted for at Westminster that “will impose a new abortion regime in Northern Ireland”.

Just over half — 52% — said they were opposed to the reforms, with 39% in favour.

Some 9% said they did not know or were not sure of their feelings.

The majority of both men (53%) and women (51%) were against the changes.

Across every age group, opposition to the new laws was stronger than support.

In the 18 to 24 year-old category, 54% were opposed, compared to 38% in favour. Opposition in the over 65 age range was strongest, with 63% opposed to liberalisation.

Almost eight in 10 of DUP supporters (77%) and just over half of UUP supporters (53%) were against the move.

However, some 67% of Alliance supporters and 80% of Green Party supporters supported the move.

Elsewhere, 52% of Sinn Fein and 31% of SDLP supporters back the change.

Dawn McAvoy, a spokeswoman for the Both Lives Matter, said that as October approaches 21, “the public is realising just how bad the law imposed by Westminster is”.

“The majority of people of Northern Ireland do not want these changes, no Northern Ireland MP voted in favour of the abortion amendment proposing these changes, and the majority of councils in Northern Ireland have now voted against these changes,” she said.

“None of the 20,000 babies born every year in Northern Ireland will be protected in law until they are capable of being born alive. After that we may be left with the most liberal abortion regime in Europe — the details of which are up to one man — the MP for Skipton and Rippon - who also happens to be the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.”

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