Abortion has been legal in Britain for more than half a century.
It’s the most common gynaecological procedure, with 98% of terminations in England and Wales funded by the NHS.
One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
The public backs the right to abortion (as do 61% of Catholics).
It is, in other words, a much-needed healthcare procedure, widely used by women and with overwhelming public support.
According to the BBC, however, abortion is such a divisive issue that it cannot provide information about it. A recent episode of Call the Midwifefeatured a storyline in which a woman died after a backstreet abortion in the days before the 1967 Abortion Act.
At the end of the episode, viewers were directed to the BBC’s Action Line website that provides information about issues aired in programmes.
Except that this time there was no information about abortion. The BBC claimed the issue was “contentious” and that it could not be seen as “supporting one side”.
But in taking this view, the BBC was most definitely supporting one side – the side that deems abortion contentious and wishes to constrain public access to it.
Neutrality is often a cloak for broadcasters to take sides while pretending not to. A few years ago, Channel 4 News debated whether cartoons should depict the prophet Muhammad.
It showed the cartoons in question, but blanked out Muhammad’s face. In the name of not giving “offence”, Channel 4 had taken sides in the debate, supporting those who would censor.
Abortion is not even contentious in that sense.
Many people oppose it, but many also oppose vaccinations.
Should the BBC refuse to carry information about MMR?
Debate the issues, by all means, but it is scandalous that a public broadcaster censors information about a normal healthcare procedure.