BY A STAFF REPORTER HE majority of Catholics — 53 per cent — believe that the abortion laws should be made more difficult. But members of other churches share the general view that the laws should be left unchanged, states a public opinion poll.
The poll was carried out for the Abortion LaW Reform Association. Altogether 1,705 electors in 100 constituencies were questioned.
The majority of people-55 per cent—think there should should be no tightening up of the existing laws with 38 per cent wanting them to be made more difficult and 15 per cent wanting them made easier.
Since the Abortion Act of 1967 there have been more than 76,000 legal abortions. Of 54,157 carried out in England and Wales 'in 1969 the numher performed on girls under 16 was 1,232.
The 55 per cent in favor, of no change also approved of the controversial "social clause" which permits abortion on the grounds that the health of members of the woman's existing family may be affected if the pregnancy is allowed to continue.
DEFORMED CHILD The highest support for the operation was on the grounds that there was substantial risk of the child being born seriously deformed. In this case 77 per cent favoured abortion, 16 per cent believed it to be wrong and 7 per cent did not know.
Also a big majority-71 per cent—thought it was right to allow abortion if the pregnancy may damage the woman's physical or mental health, taking into account her circumstances.
The issue is clearly not a party political one. The poll showed that majorities of Con servatives, Socialists and Liberals thought the Act should he left as it is or made easier.
On February 13 a Private Members' Bill by Mr. Godman Irvine, Conservative MP for Rye, is to be debated. It is expected to call for a change in the law so that only consultants could give permission for abortions.