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The BBC’s bias on abortion in Northern Ireland is breathtaking

12 October 2013

10:12 AM

12 October 2013

10:12 AM

The establishment has a target in its sights; you can always tell from the tone of the Today programme. In this case, it’s Northern Ireland’s abortion law. The occasion is the genuinely tragic case of Sarah Ewart, who travelled to Britain this week in order to abort a foetus with the most severe case of spina bifida, which meant it didn’t have a head. She didn’t want to carry the pregnancy to term and Northern Ireland’s abortion laws at present don’t allow for abortions where the foetus does not actually threaten the life of the mother. Not unlike the intention behind the 1967 abortion law here, then, which is meant only to sanction an abortion where the risk to the mental or physical health of the mother is greater than if the pregnancy continued.

Most people would accept that a baby without a head is, to all intents and purposes, not a baby, not a person; different rules could legitimately apply here than to a foetus which was severely handicapped but viable. Ms Ewart’s case was, however, dealt with by the BBC Today programme with the lack of objectivity which abortion invariably elicits. ‘What is the justification for this law?’ Jim Naughtie asked, with palpable incredulity. ‘What about the woman’s right to choose…or whatever you want to call it?’ His interlocutor was Dr Fiona Bloomer, who lectures at the University of Ulster, and who conceded that most of the thousand odd women who travel to Britain from Northern Ireland for abortions every year were not in Ms Ewart’s position, but ‘we should be careful not to stigmatise these women’. But of course. Her suggestion that there was a majority in Northern Ireland in favour of ‘reform’ was accepted.


Now, although this case is probably sufficiently difficult to warrant a change in the way the law is interpreted, there is absolutely no demand in Northern Ireland for an abortion law that operates like it does in the rest of Britain. The Northern Ireland Justice Minister, David Ford, made that much clear.

What is interesting here is the nakedness of the bias in the BBC when it comes to abortion. Can anyone conceive of Mr Naughtie bringing the full force of his incredulity to bear on the way the 1967 Act operates here, the way doctors approve terminations without actually seeing the patient, the palpable reality that in the overwhelming majority of cases there is no real risk to the mental or physical health of the woman concerned from continuing with a pregnancy, the way that disabled foetuses are – in a particularly revolting amendment to the law – allowed to be aborted right up to birth? Nope, I can’t remember the Act being scrutinised that way, ever.

And when it comes to the examination of this case on Woman’s Hour, what are the chances of any Northern Irish woman actually opposed – as most are – to abortion coming on the programme? Or will it be a pro-choice propagandist like Dr Bloomer? You guess.

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Show comments
  • Kevin Cooney

    BBC corrupt no place in N I (where they don’t suffer fools gladly )

  • fergalf

    So true. The bias of the beebo has been demonstrated statistically.

  • Kevin Cooney

    B B C should have gone years ago ., they are becoming a ever larger Scandal ! Good luck! spectator for giving us truth!

  • Kevin Cooney

    Pro -Abort Media ; Sick!

  • Chris Ranmore

    “there is absolutely no demand in Northern Ireland for an abortion law that operates like it does in the rest of Britain”

    On what basis do you make that claim? Citation please. There may be no demand from politicians but the public has not been given the opportunity to vote on this issue.

  • Lee Moore

    So, if I read this article right, the conclusion is that the BBC is pro abortion ? In next week’s issue, Melanie reveals the results of her six month undercover investigation into sensational rumours that the Pope is a Catholic.

    • Fred Scuttle

      Except the BBC is not pro-abortion. Legal abortion is common sense.

      • Kate

        And what about the sanctity of life?

  • Lungfish

    ignore the uneducated idiots- whats the problem?

  • maxmarley

    BBC have been emboldened by a recent sad case in the Republic of Ireland.
    A hard case ( which never makes good law) was exploited for all its worth to whip up enough support for a change in the law regarding abortion.
    That hospital practices were at fault was not the issue. The law they claimed was at fault and the law had to be changed.
    Rte ( a public service like bbc), the irish times ( a bit like the guardian) waged a dishonest campaign of false compassion and half truths. They were successful.
    From almost zero abortion to abortion on demand in one swoop.
    Another sad hard case is being exploited by the bbc in northern Ireland.
    But dup politicians and traditional faithful Catholics in the north may be harder to push around than the electorate in the republic and in Britain.

  • Fred Scuttle

    Pro-lifers should take into account the life of the mother as well as the foetus because the mother is obviously far more important. Weirdly they never do, it’s usually about what an imaginary being is supposed to want.

    • Jennifer O’Farrell

      I agree that pro-lifers should take into account the life of the mother. In fact one of the reasons that people criticise abortion is precisely because of the truly awful emotional effects it can wreak. Emma Beck is one example, or google Renee Nicely. see also groups like Women Hurt and Silent No More. As for your reference to a preborn baby as an “imaginary being”, I can see that the pro-choice argument is getting more desperate every minute.

      • Fred Scuttle

        LOL. The imaginary being is a god.

        • Jennifer O’Farrell

          My views are not informed by an imaginary being either, I am an atheist.

  • The_Oncoming_Storm

    NI was still governed by the old Stormont Parliament in 1967 and the Abortion Act didn’t extend to it. Local parties are opposed to liberalisation for religious reasons, even Sinn Fein which markets itself as a party of the left.

  • Law & Religion UK

    “[T]he lack of objectivity which abortion invariably elicits”. Quite so – and on both sides of the argument.

    • Chris Ranmore

      Please give an example of an emotive argument on the side that says “this should be the women’s decision”.

  • AlexanderGalt

    There was another great example of the BBC mindset in action last week.

    In response to a poll indicating that a quarter of young people mistrusted Muslims their journalist, Sima Potecha, even blamed Lee Rigby for “fuelling anti-Muslim attacks”.

    Reading the article you soon realise that it is inconceivable to Potecha that the Muslim population could in any way be even slightly responsible. A classic of the genre.

    There’s a great post about this article called:
    “Cheer Up BBC. The Glass Is Three Quarters Full!” at:!/2013/10/cheer-up-bbc-glass-is-three-quarters.html

  • fathomwest

    I think, if Scotland votes for independence, all the metropolitan areas in the old territories of Yorkshire, Cumbria (Westmorland etc), Lancashire, Wales alongwith Northern Ireland and Isle of Man should vote to join Scotland. Lincolnshire, Norfolk
    West Midlands even the West Country should follow until London and its surround is left to itself.
    As for the BBC. I agree with all comments which want the ghastly organisation scrapped.

    • Kevin Cooney

      Well said !

  • Wombeloid

    Sorry but you can’t base your case about BBC bias on the Devil’s advocate approach of an interviewer, which is desirable. Look instead at cases where an interviewee is not given a Devil’s advocate and is allowed to spout left-liberal cant unchecked. Also of course the choice of subject matter, such as Miliband pere.

  • Magnolia

    Unlike most people here, I have seen a destructive abortion carried out in such a case as the one described and I was quite sure that it was done within the remit of the hippocratic oath. I was a medical student at the time.
    Babies in utero, without a brain, are not born normally or easily and the mother needs a lot of help and intervention.
    It’s best to do it when the baby is smaller particularly for a first child.
    In the case that I witnessed, the mother was under a lot of sedation but she was aware of what was going on because she was still required to help.
    A birth via the v****a allows the mother to recover from the physical ordeal as quickly as possible.
    Most of you know that I am against abortion.
    I am against the abortion of normal babies as well as disabled ones.
    The picky professional mum who rejects the less than perfect baby cannot know of its intelligence level or personality when she gets rid of it. The so called perfect child may be thick as a brick or just charmless and ugly in comparison but she will never know.
    But, I have no doubt that there are heroic doctors who perform abortions in cases such as the one mentioned above and I would support them and if the law needs to be changed to stop abortion on demand but to allow humane care for women like these, then so be it.

  • Angela Costley

    I got so fed up I wrote and asked for a refund on my license. If we all did that, they might actually listen.

  • Jawine Westland

    It’s difficult to use Google isn’t it? The links that reform is supported (either by rewording the abortion guidelines) according to surveys that are done are easy to find. If you want to accuse somebody of bias, ensure your own house is in order.

    The current guidelines make it impossible to let medical professionals judge when the (mental)health of the mother is threatened ( see the wording of the Bourne amendment which has been seen to apply in Northern Ireland) without a threat of imprisonment and were met by criticism by the Royal College of Nursing/Human rights groups.

    It’s also fallacious to say there’s no will to get the law changed as a real referendum has never been conducted. There’s no will in The Assembly, but that doesn’t mean there’s no will among the people of Northern Ireland.

    Here’s some links to back up what I state here:

    • Kate

      So speaks a local avid pro abortionist aligned to an aggressive, yet largely ineffectual, pro abortion pressure group in Northern Ireland. Their numbers are small. Very small.The demand for abortion is simply not there among the greater number of the NI populace

      • Jawine Westland

        Thanks you just made my Monday morning 🙂

        Did you know the pro-choice people had double the protestors than the pro-life people last Saturday at the MS clinic? So not only are you utterly incapable of digesting the links I posted above, you also also incapable of counting to more than 5.

        Ow, and see how I openly show my picture and full name? You don’t, something to hide?

  • Alexsandr

    why does NI have a different law to the UK? The fact that there are 3 different laws (E&W, Scotland and NI) is a sad indictment of devolution.
    That’s not defending the E&W law which is sadly lacking in its inability to stop gender abortions (aborting of females by Asians comes to mind)

    • The voice

      Scotland has always had a different law to England, always. It has nothing to do with devolution Sandr.

      • Law & Religion UK

        It’s nothing whatsoever to do with devolution. The Abortion Act 1967 did not extend to Northern Ireland (but it did extend to Scotland). The law on abortion in NI is still governed by ss 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, subject to s 25 (Punishment for child destruction) of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945.

        • The voice

          Yes I know that…whats your question caller.

  • David Booth.

    Joseph Goebbels would be proud of the BBC’s interpretation of impartiality.

  • Barakzai

    Biased? Jim “if we win the election” Naughtie? Surely not . . .

    • Jambo25

      Jim’s being sent up to Scotland to be the oh so impartial voice of the BBC during the referendum. The majority of people, in Scotland, have no faith, at all, in BBC impartiality.

      • McRobbie

        It doesn’t help when we have to watch the low standard of presentation and reporting in Scotland, the further north in Scotland the worse it gets. I sometimes wonder if the news people up here realise it’s television they are doing and not radio.

  • stag

    Bah, BBC impartiality is a useful fiction. Get it privatized, the sooner the better.

    • 2trueblue

      Get rid of it totally. This country does not need or want to pay for a totally biased BBC and getting rid of it totally is the only way to clean it up. They are a law unto themselves.

      • WatTylersGhost

        No just privatise it, let the market decide. Unlike Royal Mail it will not be 20x oversubscribed, it is a loss making liability, shares would need to be free and come with a free set of mugs, just like petrol back in the 60’s.

      • jazz606

        The BBC wouldn’t survive on the open market, by and large its programs are dismal.
        The only thing it has of value is technology and the broadcast platform both of which could be put to better use in the private sector.

    • Scamper

      Don’t hold your breath – there is no incentive for any political party to dismantle this campaigning corporation.

      So why wait for the state to act? Switch to web TV now, vote with your feet.

  • eireanne

    have a look at the post abortion on demand now on for some more information about the N ireland Abortion law

    • Jawine Westland

      Good post 🙂

      In the USA people that identify as religious also have abortions. I’m not even sure it plays a big role for individual decision making, of course it does in politics…