Abortion On Trial: BBC Puts Babies On Trial

The BBC Two programme has been heavily criticised by the public and pro-life organisations alike for its unyielding bias. ‘Abortion On Trial’, hosted by Anne Robinson of the ‘Weakest Link’ was markedly one-sided, not only in the people who made up the panel discussing the issue of abortion at the forefront of the programme, but also the ‘experts’ who featured to discuss the issue with them, and the way in which the issue was conveyed by the programme.

Surely a prerequisite to a balanced and non-biased discussion would have been the presence of a neutral observer as presenter. BBC Two didn’t seem to see this as a necessity however, as 73-year old Anne Robinson who fronted the programme is herself strongly in favour of legalised abortion, having had an abortion herself in the late 1960s. There were 9 people who featured in the programme with their personal stories and views on abortion, and of these 9 individuals, only 2 were opposed to abortion. In fact, only 1 person was consistently against abortion. The 7 remaining guests on the show broadly believed in a permissive approach to abortion, apart from having individual reasons for opposing or feeling uncomfortable with particular reasons for having an abortion.

The actual discussion had by these individuals on the topic was influenced heavily by those who were invited to talk to them on the programme. This included a veteran campaigner for a legal and permissive abortion model, Diane Munday, and Lord Steel, who was the principal architect of the 1967 Abortion Act. In stark contrast, there wasn’t a single veteran or Parliamentary opponent of abortion allowed to talk to the group.

Munday and Steel both discussed the concept of ‘decriminalisation’ (the removal of criminal penalties for illegal abortions) which, if ever brought into practise would lead to a situation of abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth. These shocking implications of such a move were never once talked about however.

The group were even emotionally manipulated into agreeing that abortion should be able to take place in women’s homes, after hearing the moving story of an agoraphobic women who had an illegal abortion at home because she couldn’t face getting one at an abortion facility. It was interesting that nobody dared to express basic health and safety concerns surrounding the very concept of home abortions, or any similarly moving account from one of the countless women who suffered at the hands of abortion providers in the UK. Similarly, the programme neglected to show impactful real-life stories of women who chose not to go through with abortion and were glad that they made the decision to choose life.

Much of the second half of the programme focused on whether or not men should be involved in abortion decisions, and have legal rights, despite the reality that this aspect of the discussion has never been a proposal or indeed an issue in the British abortion debate. It was illuminating to see at least one man on the documentary who had suffered after the abortion of his child, and refreshing to hear his view that men have a legitimate right to an opinion concerning abortion, however the overall views and manner of this man were emotionally insensitive to others and completely unrepresentative of the pro-life movement.

The broader pro-life movement, when it was shown on the programme, was misrepresented on a vast scale. In fact, it was only ever shown incredibly briefly and within the limited context of vigils outside abortion facilities, and then a single march in Birmingham. The presentation of these was only ever partial, with no effort being made to seek out and portray larger or more professional campaign groups and charities in the United Kingdom.

Whilst a model of a 24-week old baby was shown in the midst of a conversation on foetal viability and the upper limit for UK abortions, the actual core issue of the humanity and development of the unborn child in the womb, which is of course the most fundamental and crucial context to the abortion discussion, went almost otherwise entirely unaddressed. Added to all this undiluted imbalance was the objectionable citation of polling within the programme. There was no mention made of past polling to contextualise the findings of the polling which was utilized. In May, a poll conducted by ComRes found that 59% of UK women wanted the time limit for abortion to be reduced to at least 16 weeks whilst a staggering 91% wanted a complete ban on sex-selective abortion, an abhorrent practise which Abortion On Trial spent less than a minute discussing. Furthermore, the ComRes poll revealed that 65% of those polled opposed British taxpayer funding of abortion overseas.

A mere 2% were in favour of raising the upper abortion limit, which is in effect what the decriminalisation of abortion actually means – this is the unthinkable policy which the group on this programme came to support: an extreme minority position by any definition.

All things considered, this was a wholly imbalanced and badly biased programme which was utterly one-sided, orchestrated in such a way so as to affirm pre-determined conclusions that conveniently suit the extreme agenda of the abortion lobby – the complete decriminalisation of abortion, and to go a step further, the attainment of chemically induced miscarriages at home.

One post-abortive mother who watched the BBC Two documentary spoke of her disappointment in the biased programme, stating: “The BBC programme [tonight] was heavily biased to the pro-abortion side of this debate and there was very little mention of the right to life of unborn children.

Only two guests on this show held pro-life views - that can in no way be a balanced discussion. There was no mention of what the procedure actually entails and the psychological trauma which abortion causes to women. It would have been refreshing to see the group discuss possible ways that we can reduce abortion and make women feel that they have the choice to continue their pregnancy, but none of this was discussed during this programme.”

Margaret Cuthill, founder of the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline furthered concerns: "Vulnerable women in an unplanned pregnancy are being seriously manipulated by the abortion industry in the UK.  This programme was not about looking at how abortion has damaged women or the real failings within the 1967 Act, it was a blatant attack to remove what protections are on law at the moment.”

Precious Life director Bernadette Smyth concluded, "If the BBC had been interested in making a comprehensive and fair programme that truly explored abortion in a balanced and unbiased manner, so as to properly inform the audience, in their capacity as a public broadcaster funded by the taxpayers, they would have allowed pro-life guests to speak to the central group itself, and properly and honestly addressed the implications of ‘decriminalisation.’"

Furthermore, the BBC should have had the integrity to expand the discussion to include the humanity of the unborn child and the harm that permissive abortion has brought to our society, as evidenced by the post-abortive women who discuss the trauma of their own abortion experiences, evidencing the real need for proper post-abortion counselling and healing.

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