Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Majority of SDLP is in favour of relaxing abortion law

By Staff Reporter

The Family Planning Association (FPA) has welcomed a Belfast Telegraph survey of SDLP members which suggested that a majority of them wanted Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws relaxed.

The snapshot survey indicated 54% wanted the law here relaxed, while just 12% said they thought they should be made more restrictive.

FPA's Northern Ireland Director, Dr Audrey Simpson, said: "We have been saying for a long time that anti-choice rhetoric about there being no support for change is a myth.

"This poll, as well as our own research, shows that there has been a shift in attitude in the Assembly.

"More importantly, public opinion is changing - Amnesty International's poll of 1,000 people from across Northern Ireland last month found that seven in 10 support a change to abortion law.

"It is time for legislation to be brought in line with what people really think, not what a minority would like us to believe."

The survey of 50 delegates out of around 250 was taken at the SDLP's annual conference in Belfast on Saturday. The result caused some surprise because the SDLP is officially a pro-life party.

Justice Minister David Ford has an ongoing consultation about whether abortion should be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and rape or incest.

Last month two polls showed a still larger section of the general population in favour of relaxing the law. A Belfast Telegraph LucidTalk Poll of 1,089 people across the province found that 58% supported the proposition that "abortion should be available to any woman who chooses, after counselling".

An October poll carried out by Millward Brown for Amnesty found that 68% supported abortion being available in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities and 69% in the case of rape or incest.

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