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Poll shows 91% of Irish Catholics oppose ban on artificial birth control

By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 August, 2018

Large majorities of Catholics polled in five countries said they believed contraceptives are commonly used among Catholic couples.

A new poll on Catholics’ attitudes to the Church’s ban on artificial birth control across five countries shows that the vast majority in each country are opposed to it.

The BRS poll was carried out on behalf of US lobby group ‘Catholics for Choice’ ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican decree, Humanae Vitae, which prohibited the use of the contraceptive pill and condoms.

The poll finds Irish Catholics to be most opposed to the ban, with 91 per cent of the 676 Catholics in Ireland surveyed expressing their opposition to the Vatican’s teaching.

Elsewhere, the poll shows Catholics oppose the ban by two-thirds in the US (67 per cent), 58 per cent in Kenya, 56 per cent in Colombia and 52 per cent in the Philippines.

Agreement with the ban is highest in the Philippines at 44 per cent, followed by 39 per cent in Colombia, 27 per cent in Kenya, 17 per cent in the US, and just 6 per cent in Ireland.

Another key finding of the poll reveals that only a small number of Catholics in all five countries could identify Humanae Vitae as the Vatican decree on birth control.

Catholics in the US are the most likely to know about Humanae Vitae, and even among this group fewer than one in three (29 per cent) said they had heard of it and only 14 per cent could identify it as being about birth control.

A similar lack of awareness is evident in Ireland, with 27 per cent aware of the decree and 11 per cent able to identify that it is about birth control.

The least awareness is in Colombia, where 16 per cent had heard of it and 3 per cent could identify it as being about birth control, and the Philippines, where 9 per cent had heard of it and 4 per cent could identify it as being about birth control.

Large majorities of Catholics in all five countries said they believed contraceptives are commonly used among Catholics.

Over nine in ten (96 per cent) of Catholics in Ireland said it was common for Catholics to use contraceptive pills and condoms. In Colombia and the Philippines this view is held by 85 per cent of Catholics, in the US by 84 per cent, and in Kenya 60 per cent.

Commenting on the findings, Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice said, “For half a century, the Catholic hierarchy has blocked funding and access to contraception for family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention, with deadly impacts for the most vulnerable globally.”

He added, “Many Catholics choose to ignore the Vatican’s ban on birth control, but the world’s poorest people do not have that luxury.”

The poll is published along with a new report ‘Humanae Vitae: The Damage Done’, detailing the political battle that led to the Vatican ban on birth control despite resistance from the Church’s own birth control commission.

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