Abortion fails the political test

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The Independent Online
Our poll gave voters a choice of two statements: 76 per cent agreed that: "Abortion is a moral issue and should be kept right out of politics." Only 14 per cent opted for the alternative: "Abortion is a political as well as a moral issue and the political parties should make it clear whether they are pro- or anti-abortion." The remaining 9 per cent did not know, according to this week's Independent/Harris poll.

The findings suggest the electorate has no truck with Thomas Winning, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, who has attacked Tony Blair over his support for the present abortion law. The Pro-Life Alliance also looks doomed in its bid to stand 50 candidates on a policy of absolute opposition to abortion.

A spokesman for Cardinal Winning said: "Was it politicians who legalised abortion or wasn't it? We have seen 4.25 million abortions take place overwhelmingly for social reasons as a result of a political decision."

Mr Blair, the Labour leader, has said he personally is opposed to abortion but that he does not believe he should legislate to force women to have unwanted children. The Labour Party leaves the issue to the conscience of individual MPs.

Bruno Quintavalle, director of the Pro-Life Alliance, said: "This shows the need for our campaign to change attitudes. Abortion is the most political of all issues because it is about the value of human life."

Other poll evidence has shown a trend over the past two decades towards more liberal views on abortion, with a clear majority agreeing that women should have the right to choose.

Harris Research interviewed 1,016 adults in their homes between 14 and 17 March.