Letter: Abortion support in Northern Ireland

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Una Gillespie is a bit out of date if, as reported by David McKittrick ('Feminist campaigner defends role as Sinn Fein leader', 1 June), she believes abortion law reform would be a vote loser among Roman Catholic voters in Northern Ireland now. It will certainly be a vote loser among the hierarchy, but this is a different thing altogether.

In February 1993, Ulster Marketing Surveys conducted a national survey into attitudes to abortion law reform in the province, broken down by religious denomination among other variables. It found that 85 per cent of Protestants and 64 per cent of Roman Catholics wished to see abortion made legal in the interests of the health of the mother, and that 80 per cent of Protestants and 54 per cent of Roman Catholics wished to see abortion made legal in cases of sexual offence.

Even in cases where the 'child would be severely handicapped', nearly half the Catholic voters (43 per cent) wished to see abortion legalised (compared with 67 per cent of Protestants) and this is the issue that has attracted the particular attention of the hierarchy and about which many, many sermons have been preached in Roman Catholic churches in Ireland (and the rest of the UK).

Perhaps it is time Ms Gillespie persuaded her party to look and see what was actually happening among Catholic voters in Northern Ireland in the Nineties.

Yours faithfully,

MADELEINE SIMMS

London, NW11

2 June

Comments