PCF pro choice forumFor those with a specialist interest in abortion issues
Information Resource Library Opinion, Comment & Reviews Publications Psychological issues
pro choice forum   Search
Abortion and disability
Ante Natal diagnosis
Abortion law
Ireland and abortion
Reproductive technologies
Ethical issues
Contraception
What is PCF?  
Useful linksSubscribe  
Information Resource Library
Abortion and disability
   
  SECTION ONE - THE STATISTICS

Question 1(a) Would you consider yourself: pro-choice; pro-life;
somewhere between; unsure?

Total sample

Pro-choice 76%

Pro-life 4%

Somewhere between 13%

Unsure 7%

University students

Pro-choice 75%

Pro-life 6%

Somewhere between 19%

Unsure 0%

School students

Pro-choice 76%

Pro-life 3%

Somewhere between 11%

Unsure 10%

Key statistics

- three quarters of students define themselves as pro-choice.
This is the case for both school and university age students.

- a small minority of students say they are pro-life.

Question 1(b) Do you agree that women should have access to legal
abortion as stated under the [1967 Abortion] Act? (law supplied)

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

Agree with the 1967 Act

45.2

1967 Act is too strict

32.7

1967 Act is too permissive

12.9

Abortion should be illegal

2.7

Don't Know

6.5


Total sample (by category)

Category

Agree with 1967 Act

1967 Act is too strict

1967 Act is too permissive

Abortion should be illegal

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

48.2

40.7

5.0

0

6.1

Pro-Life

10.0

0

30.0

60.0

0

Between

34.3

8.6

51.4

0

5.7

Undecided

52.6

10.5

15.8

5.3

15.8


University students (by category)

Category

Agree with 1967 Act

1967 Act is too strict

1967 Act is too permissive

Abortion should be illegal

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

56.9

34.5

3.4

0

5.2

Pro-Life

0

0

40

60

0

Between

53.3

0

40

0

6.7

Undecided

0

0

0

0

0


School students (by category)

Category

Agree with 1967 Act

1967 Act is too strict

1967 Act is too permissive

Abortion should be illegal

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

44.7

43.3

5.7

0

6.3

Pro-Life

20

0

20

60

0

Between

20

15

60

0

5

Undecided

52.6

10.5

15.8

5.3

15.8


Key statistics

- the majority of students take a liberal approach to abortion law.
Over three quarters of both school and university age students say
they agree with the 1967 Act, or think the law is too restrictive.

- Of those students who say they are pro-choice, nearly one half
agree with the law as it stands and over one third think the law is too
restrictive.

- Of those students who say they are pro-life, less than two thirds
think that abortion should be illegal. The remainder say that the
current law is too permissive or (at school age) say they agree
with the Abortion Act.

Question 2: What is your personal view of abortion?

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

Abortion is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy

30.0

Abortion is important as it allows women to decide

24.0

Abortion should be allowed in restricted cases (e.g after rape)

31.9

Abortion is unnecessary and should be made illegal

3.8

Don't Know

10.3


Total Sample (by category)

Category

Abortion is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy

Abortion is important as it allows women to decide

Abortion should be allowed in restricted cases (e.g after rape)

Abortion is unnecessary and should be made illegal

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

37.7

29.6

21.1

0

11.6

Pro-Life

0

0

20

80

0

Between

0

5.7

85.7

2.9

5.7

Undecided

21.1

10.5

52.6

5.3

10.5


University students (by category)

Category %

Abortion is Necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy

Abortion is important as it allows women to decide

Abortion should allowed in restricted cases (e.g after rape)

Abortion is unnecessary and should be made illegal

Don't know

Pro-Choice

36.2

50

6.9

0

6.9

Pro-Life

0

0

20

80

0

Between

0

13.3

66.7

6.7

13.3

Undecided

0

0

0

0

0


School students (by category)

Category %

Abortion is Necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy

Abortion is important as it allows women to decide

Abortion should allowed in restricted cases (e.g. after rape)

Abortion is unnecessary and should be made illegal

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

38.3

21.3

27

0

13.4

Pro-Life

0

0

20

80

0

Between

0

0

100

0

0

Undecided

21.1

10.5

52.6

5.3

10.5

Key statistics

- The majority of students say they think abortion is necessary
to prevent unwanted pregnancy or that it is important to allow
the woman to decide the circumstances of pregnancy.

- more pro-choice university age students than school students
think that allowing the woman to decide is most important.

- one fifth of pro-life school and university students think
that abortion should be allowed in certain circumstances.

Question 3: Do you think that the time limit in the law for abortion
for health and social reasons should be lower than 24 weeks?
(categorized)

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of sample

Yes, it should be decreased

24.0

No, it should stay the same

47.9

No, the time limit should be more than 24 weeks

10.3

Don't know

17.8


Total sample (by category)

Category

Yes it should be decreased

No It should stay the same

No the time limit should be more than 24 weeks

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

17.6

52.3

11.6

18.5

Pro-Life

50

30

0

20

Between

48.6

31.4

2.9

17.1

Undecided

31.6

42.1

15.8

10.5


University Students (by category)

Category %

Yes, it should be decreased

No, it should stay the same

No, the time limit should be more than 24 weeks

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

20.7

46.5

12.1

20.7

Pro-Life

60

0

0

40

Between

66.7

20

0

13.3

Undecided

0

0

0

0


School Students (by category)

Category %

Yes, it should be decreased

No, it should stay the same

No, the time limit should be more than 24 weeks

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

16.3

54.6

11.4

17.7

Pro-Life

40

60

0

0

Between

35

40

5

20

Undecided

31.6

42.1

15.8

10.5


Key statistics

- just under half of the respondents thought that the legal time
limit of 24 weeks for abortion for health and social reasons
should stay the same.

- of those pro-choice students who did not think the limit
should be 24 weeks, more thought it should be decreased
than increased.

- a significant proportion of pro-life students did not opt
for decreasing the time limit, with nearly two-thirds of
pro-life school students saying, of the options given,
they agreed with the 24 week limit.

Question 4: Do you agree or disagree with the law
[regarding abortion for fetal abnormality]? (Law supplied)

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

No, abortion for fetal abnormality should be illegal

9.5

Yes, I agree abortion for fetal abnormality should be allowed

76.0

Don't Know

14.5


Total sample (by category)

Category

No, abortion for fetal abnormality should be illegal

Yes, I agree abortion for fetal abnormality should be allowed

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

5

81

14

Pro-Life

70

20

10

Between

14.3

74.3

11.4

Undecided

15.8

57.9

26.3


University students (by category)

Category %

No, abortion for fetal abnormality should be illegal

Yes, I agree abortion for fetal abnormality should be allowed

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

3.4

86.25

10.35

Pro-Life

100

0

0

Between

26.7

60

13.3

Undecided

0

0

0


School students (by category)

Category %

No, abortion for fetal abnormality should be illegal

Yes, I agree abortion for fetal abnormality should be allowed

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

5.7

78.7

15.6

Pro-Life

40

40

20

Between

5.0

85

10


Key statistics

- the majority of students think that abortion for abnormality
should be allowed as stated in the 1967 Abortion Act.

- a small proportion of pro-choice students think that
abortion for abnormality should be illegal.

- an equal proportion of pro-life school students think abortion
for abnormality should be illegal and think it should be legal.

Question 5: At present the decision about whether to allow
termination [where fetal abnormality is detected] is decided
by the doctor's judgement and the feelings of the pregnant
woman, do you think that:

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

This law should stay the same

37.6

There should be a list of conditions drawn up which spells out sufficient grounds for termination

12.2

It should left to the mother to decide

41.1

Don't Know

9.1


Total sample (by category)

Category %

This law should stay the same

There should be a list of conditions drawn up which spells out sufficient grounds for termination

It should be left to the mother to decide

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

33.3

9.2

52.5

5.0

Pro-Life

40

20

0

40

Between

50

15

30

5

Undecided

52.6

15.8

10.5

21.1


University students (by category)

Category %

This law should stay the same

There should be a list of conditions drawn up which spells out sufficient grounds for termination

It should be left to the mother to decide

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

39.7

10.3

44.8

5.2

Pro-Life

20

20

0

60

Between

40

33.3

0

26.7

Undecided

0

0

0

0


School students (by category)

Category %

This law should stay the same

There should be a list of conditions drawn up which spells out sufficient grounds for termination

It should be left to the mother to decide

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

35.2

9.5

50.3

5

Pro-Life

30

20

0

50

Between

45.7

22.9

17.1

14.3

Undecided

52.6

15.8

10.5

21.1


Key statistics

- most students take a liberal approach to abortion law,
and this would appear to include their views regarding
the law on abortion for abnormality. The majority think
decision making in abortion for abnormality it should be
left to the woman or that the law should stay the same.

- over a half of pro-choice students think the decision
about whether to abort when the fetus is abnormal
should be left to the woman alone to decide.

- of the options available, most pro-life students said
they did not know what they thought about decision
making, and one fifth supported a list of abnormalities
drawn up by law as suitable grounds for termination.

Question 6: Which kinds of abnormality do you personally think
are acceptable grounds for termination?
(you can choose up to three options)

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

A painful life for the child

71.9

(Mother's life in danger)*

57.8

Woman decides

39.2

Disfigurement

25.5

Down's syndrome

11.4

None

6.5

Don't know

4.2


Total sample (by category)

Category

A painful life for the child

(Mother's life in danger)*

Woman decides

Disfigure -ment

Down's syndrome

None

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

33.7

27.8

20.35

11.8

4

1.35

1

Pro-Life

10

0

0

0

30

60

0

Between

34.6

25.4

9.3

16

9.3

4

1.4

Un-decided

30.5

25

13.85

5.6

5.6

5.6

13.85


University Students (by category)

Category

A painful life for the child

(Mother's life in danger)*

Woman

decides

Disfigure -ment

Down's syndrome

None

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

31.53

26.1

23.42

11.7

4.5

0 0

2.75

Pro-Life

0

0

0

0

0

8 80

20

Between

35.7

21.4

10.7

10.7

10.7

7.14

3.66

Un-decided

0

0

0

0

0

0

0


School Students (by category)

Category

A painful life for the child

(Mother's life in danger)*

Woman decides

Disfigure -ment

Down's syndrome

None

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

34.5

28.2

19.3

12

3.9

1.8

0.3

Pro-Life

16.65

0

0

0

50

33.35

0

Between

34

27.6

8.6

19.18

8.5

2.12

0

Un-decided

30.55

25

13.9

5.6

5.6

5.6

13.75

* included for comparison

Key statistics

- abnormalities which meant the child would be in pain
during its life was most commonly chosen as an
acceptable ground for abortion for abnormality.

- over one third of students picked 'the decision
on whether to have an abortion should be left
to the woman' in their top three options.

- a relatively small proportion chose Down's
syndrome as an acceptable ground for abortion
for abnormality among their three highest placed
options; interestingly a smaller number than that
which chose disfigurement.

Question 7: Do you think that improvements in the
treatment of disease which may advance life
expectancy will affect your attitude towards
abortion for fetal abnormality?

Total sample (by response)

Response

% of Sample

Yes

26.2

No

27.8

Don't Know

46.0


Total sample (by category)

Category %

Yes

No

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

26.1

29.1

44.8

Pro-Life

11.1

55.6

33.3

Between

44.1

23.5

32.4

Undecided

0

0

0


University Students (by category)

Category %

Yes

No

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

22.4

36.2

41.4

Pro-Life

0

75

25

Between

57.1

28.6

14.3

Undecided

0

0

0


School students (by category)

Category %

Yes

No

Don't Know

Pro-Choice

27.7

26.2

46.1

Pro-Life

20

40

40

Between

35

20

45

Undecided

5.3

10.5

84.2


Key statistics

- the largest proportion of students did not know
what they thought about the impact of potential
improvements in treatment of disease on their
views about abortion for abnormality.

- a similar proportion of students thought it would
and thought it would not affect their opinions.

Comment

From the survey results, the overriding impression is
that students take a liberal attitude towards abortion
law. The majority believe that abortion should be
legal; a significant number think that the current law is too
restrictive. A significant number of students who say
they are pro-life think abortion should be legal in some
circumstances.

With regard to time limits, the answers given by
pro-choice students appeared to be somewhat
contradictory. Where one third of pro-choice
students answered that they thought the law was
too restrictive, only 11.6 per cent thought the time
limit for abortion should be more than 24 weeks.
This may indicate a certain discomfort with idea of
late term abortion.

We found that a liberal approach to the law did
also extend to the law on abortion for abnormality.
Most thought that the law should allow abortion
where the fetus was abnormal, and many thought
that decision making on whether to abort where the
fetus was abnormal should be left to the woman.

From these results it is therefore clear that students
do not support a restrictive legal framework on
abortion, including abortion for abnormality.
Given that other research has identified a lack of
support for abortion for abnormality, we decided to
carry out some further research, in the form of an
interview study, to try to find out more about young
people's attitudes to abortion, and in particular
abortion for abnormality, rather than simply their
attitudes to the law.

Back to contents page

 
Return to top


">
 
Send
Contact us
Information Resource LibraryOpinion, Comment & ReviewsEvents DiaryPsychological Issues
Home © PCF copyright