Almost 87 percent of respondents to a survey have declared themselves against the introduction of abortion, the pro-life group Gift of Life said today.

A similar survey last year found that 88% disagreed with the legalisation of abortion. The figure for 2008 was 84.5%.

The surveys were carried out by Informa Consultants among a nationally representative sample targeting the general public. A total of 500 respondents were interviewed.

The main findings of this year's survey were that 87% were against the legalisation of abortion, 4% agreed that abortion should be legalised and 9% felt that abortion should only be legalised in some cases.

Out of those who agreed that abortion should be legalised or that abortion should be legalised only in some cases, 50% felt that abortion should be legalised for cases of rape - equivalent to 6% of the total population.

Despite stating that abortion should be legalised in cases of rape, almost 68% of this group believed that that the embryo in rape cases has just as much value as the life of embryos conceived in other circumstances.

Furthermore, 29% of this segment changed their opinion in favour of abortion in rape cases when asked a further question ‘Research has shown that women who kept their baby after rape actually claim that keeping their baby helped them to overcome the trauma of rape. Does being aware of this fact change your opinion about abortion in cases of rape?'

26% reported that this did not influence their opinion while 45% said they did not know.

Gift of Life stressed in a statement that while some sections of society had claimed that the introduction of divorce would lead to the introduction of abortion, it was not taking an official position in favour or against divorce.

It however, was interested in better understanding the public's opinion about a possible association between divorce and abortion. In view of this, respondents were asked, ‘If divorce was legalized in Malta, do you think that this would prepare the way and make it easier for abortion to be legalized?

36% answered ‘yes', 47% answered ‘no' to this question and 17% said they did not know.

Gift of Life said that support for its proposal for the introduction of a Constitutional amendment to provide clear guarantees for the right to life from conception remained high with 73%.

The full research findings will also be available for readers to view or download from the Gift of Life website from 4pm.

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