In the News 2007
Press Association

Almost Half of Catholics Back Abortion – Poll


A large minority of Catholics back a woman’s right to have an abortion and are critical of their bishops for paying “too much attention” to the issue, a survey suggested today.A poll of adults in the UK has shown 43% of Catholics agreed that it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unwanted pregnancy with only 27% disagreeing.

A further 20% said they neither disagreed or agreed.

The survey also found that 42% of Catholics agreed with the view that the Catholic bishops concentrated too much of their attention on abortion when there were other issues that also required their attention.

The YouGov poll of 1,983 adults in the UK was conducted online earlier this month for the US-based group Catholics for Choice, which is to brief MPs on its findings at a breakfast meeting today.

The poll found the highest level of support for abortion among the general population with 63% of all respondents agreeing it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unwanted pregnancy.

This figure fell to 58% of people who identified themselves as Protestant.

The survey findings come as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was debated in the House of Lords earlier this week. Both pro-Life and pro-choice groups are expected to attempt to use the Bill to change the law on abortion.

Scottish Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the leader of Catholics in England and Wales Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, issued a letter last month saying the 200,000 abortions a year in England and Wales were a source of “distress and profound anguish”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, also said the British public was in danger of losing its “moral focus” on abortion and treating the procedure as normal, rather than a last resort.

President of Catholics for Choice Jon O’Brien said: “The poll results demonstrate to us an important point that is often ignored or glossed over in discussions about the law on abortion – namely, that British people, of all faiths and none, trust women and families to make their own decisions when it comes to the choice to terminate a pregnancy or bring a child into the world.

“Despite what the Catholic hierarchy would like the public to believe, a plurality of British Catholics has chosen to ignore this divisive rhetoric, and instead follow their consciences when it comes to supporting access to abortion.

“They aren’t looking for bishops to lecture them, or for politicians to tie people’s hands.”

This article was originally published on 22 November 2007 by the Press Association.

Catholics for Choice