January 26, 2018 / 9:36 AM / 7 months ago

Irish poll shows majority support abortion up to 12 weeks

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A majority of Irish voters would support a proposal to allow abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy in a referendum due in the coming months, the first major national poll on the question showed on Friday.

The government has pledged to hold a plebiscite as soon as May to loosen some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, but the wording of the referendum and subsequent legislation have not yet been agreed.

A cross-party parliamentary committee last month recommended that the state legislate to allow terminations with no restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a more liberal position than some had anticipated.

While the country remains overwhelmingly Catholic, public opinion has become far more socially liberal in recent years. A complete ban on abortion was only lifted in 2013 to allow terminations in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.

The Irish Times/MRBI poll found that 56 percent of voters would support a change in the constitution so the government can legislate for abortion on request up to 12 weeks, with 29 percent opposed and 15 percent undecided.

But it showed sharp divisions remain on the issue. While 74 percent of voters under the age of 25 were in favor of the change, only 36 percent of voters over 65 supported it.

The Irish Times in an editorial about the poll said that while there had been a striking move towards liberalization of abortion in the past year, the referendum result was far from a foregone conclusion.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Ralph Boulton

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