13.06.2013: Irish Times has to know by now its polls on abortion shed little or no light on the debate

13.06.2013: Irish Times has to know by now its polls on abortion shed little or no light on the debate

13th June 2013

Image showing the Irish Times Logo

Today’s Irish Times Ipsos MRBI poll, flagged as showing support for the Government’s abortion legislation, in reality shows no such thing, according to the Pro Life Campaign.

Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Having followed the same flawed approach several times, the Irish Times has to know that confused questions produce confusing answers.”

She continued: “As before, the main question in the poll asks whether the respondents support or oppose legislation permitting abortion where the mother’s life is in danger as in the X case. But this type of question deliberately blurs the all important distinction between medical treatment needed to preserve the life of the mother and abortion where the life of the baby is deliberately targeted for destruction. Unsurprisingly, people will answer yes to a question about saving women’s lives, but the answer is used in the poll as evidence of support for taking the baby’s life. This sheds little or no light on the debate.

“One also has to ask why the question dealing with the threat of suicide in pregnancy is repeatedly phrased in such a way as to imply that abortion is a medical treatment for suicidal thoughts when the expert evidence of two sets of Oireachtas Hearings was that it is no such thing.

“Again one wonders why the Irish Times has not asked a follow on question making it clear that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings. Phrasing it that way would not be misleading, it would, instead, be a truthful reflection of the medical reality.

“It is interesting, though again unsurprising that the Irish Times poll didn’t ask a question gauging public feeling about abortion up to and beyond viability. The Government’s proposal allows for abortion in such circumstances so why was there no question on this?

Ms Sherlock said: “The conclusion seems to be that the Irish Times is only interested in asking questions with built-in pro-choice presuppositions because they will predictably elicit pro-choice responses. Surely the public has a right to expect better from a newspaper like the Irish Times?

“If we are to have a meaningful discussion on where public opinion stands, we need polls that genuinely capture the nuances of the debate,” Ms Sherlock concluded.