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Abortion politics
  MPs discuss how their position on abortion could affect their majority
Press release from BPAS

MPs will discuss how their position on abortion could affect the way constituents vote in a meeting at the House of Commons later today. Research conducted by MORI’s Social Research Institute on behalf of BPAS asks:

“Generally speaking, could you please tell me how important you think a political candidate’s position on abortion is, in deciding whether or not to vote for that candidate?”

The results, which will be presented to MPs for discussion and debate show that 4 in ten (43%) of British people feel it is important, but 50% say it is not. This is in contrast to similar research conducted in the United States, where seven in 10 (71%) of voters said that a candidate’s handling of abortion was important in determining how they would vote in the 2000 Presidential election.

Dr Jenny Tonge MP, Liberal Democrat for Richmond Park who hosted the meeting said:

“It is very important for MPs to know that for half the public, a political candidate’s position on abortion is not important, and by supporting a woman’s right to choose they are speaking for the majority.”

The Rt Hon Frank Dobson MP, former Secretary of State for Health and Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras who addressed the meeting added:

I have always believed that abortion is an issue of conscience and so not susceptible to public pressure. It is however reassuring to know that the principles I upheld have the support of most of the people in our country.

The MORI poll commissioned by BPAS, the UK’s largest specialist provider of abortion services, highlights the difference between American and British attitudes.

Ian Jones, Chief Executive of BPAS said:

“The results of the MORI poll are a useful insight into voters' views. It shows that for half of GB voters a political candidate’s position on abortion is not an important issue in deciding whether or not to vote for that candidate. MPs who are openly pro-choice may not necessarily lose votes. Overall, 62% of people agree that abortion should be legally available for all who want it. It’s about time we recognised that abortion is an essential reproductive healthcare need that people should not be afraid to talk about.”


Notes for editors

- At the request of BPAS, MORI surveyed 2,006 adults (aged 15+) on its Omnibus between 4 and 9 October 2001. Interviews were carried out using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) face to face in respondent’s homes. Data have been weighted to reflect the national population profile. For further information contact Michele Corrado or Anna Carluccio at MORI on 020 7347 3000.

- The results also suggest that a political candidate’s position on abortion is more important to British voters who read broadsheet newspapers (53%), are single (49%) and live in the South of England (48%).

- The US poll conducted for ABC News and the Washington Post asked: ‘How important will….handling the abortion issue…be to you in deciding how to vote in the 2000 presidential election in November?”

- BPAS is the UK’s largest independent abortion provider. It provides abortion care for 48,000 women each year.

- More information on BPAS is available at www.bpas.org

For further information contact Denise Darrell-Lambert in the BPAS press office on 020 7612 0206 or 07775 991588

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