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Appendix 1

Survey examining young people's attitudes towards abortion for fetal abnormality

Background Information

Religious Affiliation:
Parental occupation:

1a. Would you consider yourself (please tick)

pro-choice (you think that women should be allowed to have a choice about whether to have an abortion or not)

pro-life (you are against abortion in all cases)

somewhere between


1b. The current abortion law still is the 1967 Abortion Act which was amended in 1990 under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. It says that a woman can have an abortion up to 24 weeks in pregnancy provided two doctors agree to her decision. In the period from 24 weeks until birth a woman can have an abortion only if there is a serious risk of fetal handicap, or if the woman's life is in danger.

Do you agree that women should have access to legal abortion as stated under this act:

Yes women should have access to abortion as stated in the 1967 Abortion Act

No, I think the act is too strict and abortion should be a decision made only by the mother

No, I think the act is too permissive and needs to be stricter

No, I think that abortion should be illegal

Don't know

2. What is your personal view of abortion?

Abortion is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy

Abortion is important as it means the woman can decide when she becomes pregnant rather than leaving it to chance.

Abortion should be allowed, but only for certain reasons e.g. rape

Abortion is unnecessary and should be made illegal

Don't know

3. The current time limit for abortion has come under debate. It is at present 24 weeks for health or social reasons and any time up to term in the case of serious fetal abnormality or threat to the mother's life.

Do you think that the time limit in the law for abortion for health or social reasons should be lower than 24 weeks: (please tick)

Yes it should be decreased

It should be kept the same

No, the limit should be more than 24 weeks.

Don't know

4. At present the law says that abortion is allowed where two doctors are of the opinion that there is substantial risk that if a child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. In this circumstance there is no time limit. Do you agree or disagree with this law:

I disagree, abortion for fetal abnormality should be made illegal

I agree, abortion for fetal abnormality should be allowed

Don't know

5. Screening during pregnancy can mean that a woman can find out whether her fetus is healthy or not before it is born. If the fetus is found to be seriously abnormal the woman can decide whether to go ahead with the pregnancy or to end it with a termination. If she chooses to terminate the pregnancy two doctors will decide whether the abnormality can be classed as serious enough to allow the abortion. At present the decision about whether to allow termination is decided by the doctors judgement and the feelings of the pregnant woman. Do you think that:

This law should stay the same

There should be a list of abnormalities and conditions drawn up by law which spells out which conditions provide sufficient grounds for termination and which don't.

It should be left to the mother to decide the reasons she thinks best for termination.

Don't know

6. Which kinds of abnormality do you personally think are acceptable grounds for termination? (please tick up to three boxes)

Any condition which would mean that the child would be in pain throughout its life

If the mother's life was in danger

The decision on whether to have an abortion should be left to the woman

Any condition which meant that a child would be severely disfigured

Down's syndrome

No terminations should be carried out on the basis of fetal abnormality

Don't know

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?



Don't know

Appendix 2

MORI poll: Research conducted for Birth Control Trust January-February 1997

Do you approve or disapprove of abortion under the following circumstances?

Where it is likely that the child would be born mentally handicapped or mentally disabled:

Age Approve (%) Disapprove (%)
15-24 50 36
25-34 65 26
35-44 68 18
45-54 72 15
55-64 72 11
65+ 75 11

Where it is likely that the child would be born physically handicapped or physically disabled:

Age Approve (%) Disapprove (%)
15-24 47 40
25-34 72 15
35-44 66 22
45-54 63 26
55-64 61 9
65+ 69 15

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