New poll findings released today show that “key aspects of the Government’s abortion proposals currently before the Dáil are clearly out of step with public opinion,” according to the Pro Life Campaign.
80% of respondents to the latest Amárach poll say doctors and healthcare workers should not be forced against their conscience to carry out abortions. 20% of those who took part in the poll believe doctors should be forced to perform abortions against their conscience.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said: “The Government’s abortion Bill contains no positive right to conscientious objection from having to perform abortions. If the Bill passes in its current form, doctors, nurses and midwives could be forced to carry out abortions regardless of their deeply held personal views on the issue. It’s clear from the poll findings that the public do not wish to see healthcare workers being compelled to act against their conscience.”
Dr Cullen said: “Another revealing finding in the poll is that by a slim majority the public don’t believe doctors opposed to abortion should be forced to arrange for another doctor to carry out the procedure. This is a particularly encouraging result given that there has been virtually no public debate on the very real and serious concerns many GPs have at being forced by the Government to arrange for the abortion to take place if they seek opt outs from performing the procedure itself.
“The poll findings show that the overwhelming majority of the public back freedom of conscience protections in contrast to the way the Government is coercing healthcare workers to do something they believe to be abhorrent. What the Government is doing is unconscionable. They keep saying that freedom of conscience is protected but when you look closely at the Bill, it is not. They will simply have to insert proper freedom of conscience protections into the Bill.”
Dr Cullen said: “60% of those questioned in the poll say they are opposed to taxpayer funded abortion. This is another significant finding. The Government has made it clear that provision of abortion in Ireland is to be exclusively funded by the taxpayer and announced in last week’s Budget that €12 million is being allocated for the rollout of abortion in Ireland in 2019. The poll however makes clear that the public do not support taxpayer funded abortions by a significant margin.”
Dr Cullen pointed out that “69% of those surveyed believe doctors should be obliged to give babies that survive the abortion procedure proper medical care rather than leaving the babies to die alone and unaccompanied. It is a widely publicised fact that in countries where abortion is legal that some babies do survive the procedure. The Government however is point blank refusing amendments that would err on the side of giving proper medical care to these babies rather than leaving them in corners to expire.
“79% of people polled said they favour a woman seeking an abortion being offered the choice of seeing an ultrasound before going through with the abortion. Minister Harris’s Bill makes no provision for facilitating this kind of basic information. Everything in his Bill is focussed on paving the way for abortion.”
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Commenting on the overall results of the poll, Dr Cullen said: “Simon Harris promised there would be ‘ample time’ after the referendum to scrutinise any proposed legislation but like so many other things he has completely reneged on his promise and is now railroading the Bill through the Dáil for fear the cracks in his proposal start to show. Minister Harris likes to portray his Bill as enjoying the overwhelming support of the public but it’s easy to see from today’s poll findings that this is simply not the case. He can pretend that the very real concerns of doctors and others don’t exist but I can assure him they will not go away until they are addressed, regardless of how long it takes.”
The questions analysed in the poll were included in Amárach’s monthly online omnibus poll of 1,000 adults aged 18 and over. The research reported here is based on findings from this omnibus fieldwork. The research was commissioned by the Pro Life Campaign and was conducted in August 2018.