Northern Ireland

70% 'support Northern Ireland abortion law change'

Woman holding sign Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A woman can only have an abortion in Northern Ireland under very restricted circumstances

More than 70% of people in Northern Ireland have shown support for a change in abortion law, according to an opinion poll by Amnesty International.

The charity questioned 1,000 people seeking opinions about abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.

Of those questioned, 72% agreed abortion should be lawful if the pregnancy was a result of sexual crime.

Some 7% did not agree or disagree and 15% disagreed.

In Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is only allowed if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.

The Amnesty International figures also suggest that the numbers of people supporting access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality has risen.

Two years ago a similar poll showed 60% of respondents backed abortion in such circumstances. That figure has now risen to 67%; 17% disagreed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Anti-abortion groups oppose changes to the law in Northern Ireland

Almost 60% of those asked thought abortion should not be a crime in Northern Ireland, while 22% were opposed to a change.

The poll also indicates the views of DUP and SDLP supporters - parties who have been traditionally opposed to changing the law.

Seventy-three per cent of DUP supporters support access to abortion in cases of rape or incest, with 17% opposed.

Among SDLP supporters, 69% back access to abortion in such circumstances, also with 17% opposed.

In the survey 1,000 people were questioned face-to-face in their homes by independent research company Millward Brown.

The polling was carried out in the middle of September and the representative sample were aged 16 and over in multiple urban and rural locations across Northern Ireland.

Adrianne Peltz of Amnesty International said: "These poll findings demonstrate an overwhelming demand for change to Northern Ireland's draconian abortion laws.

"This is not a small margin of support for women's access to abortion, it's a definitive landslide. Northern Ireland has changed."

However, Life Northern Ireland said it was concerned by the results of the poll.

"Life Northern Ireland does not believe that abortion is best healthcare, nor is it a solution to the crisis the woman and her family may be facing," said spokeswoman Marion Woods.

"We believe that this recent poll does not allow for due consideration to be given to the impact of appropriate care provision for women facing a pregnancy as a result of sexual crime or for women who have found that their unborn baby has a life-limiting condition."

More on this story