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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Abortion on Trial?

17 October 2017

How could people still struggling to absorb their own experiences put abortion "on trial"?

"A blatant attack to remove what protections are on law at the moment."

The BBC last night broadcast its widely trailed programme Abortion on Trial.  Presenter Anne Robinson had spoken before the broadcast of how having an abortion in the sixties had caused "a terrible black doom" to come over her, which had led some to believe that the programme would be a serious attempt to examine the impact of the Abortion Act and the consequences of abortion for women.

However, the programme has been condemned as being little more than propaganda for the abortion industry and a open push for the decriminalisation agenda. Reviews of the programme have pointed out that there was no impartial consideration of the subject: The Daily Telegraph said: "Ultimately, abortion wasn’t really 'on trial' here at all; this lot were far too immersed in their own experiences to be considered impartial judges or jurors."


The programme chose a group of post-abortive women together with one man, whose partner had aborted his child against his will. Despite the programme being billed as balanced, only two of the nine participants described themselves as pro-life. The guests invited to talk to the group included Lord David Steel, who brought in the 1976 Act, and Diane Munday, one of main activists behind it, but no pro-life campaigners. Despite the programme being aired on the publicly funded BBC, it ended with an explicit appeal by Anne Robinson to change the law with regards to home abortions.

Manufactured consensus

Dr Anthony McCarthy, SPUC’s Education and Communications director, commented on the programme, saying: "Group members were continually patronised by Robinson who then pressed the group to achieve a false 'consensus' on decriminalised abortion, home abortions and effectively abortion on demand. In other words the entire agenda of the abortion industry promoted through the mouths of badly-informed grieving post-abortive women. No footage of the developing unborn child was shown or any serious medical description given of what abortion involves as a procedure.   In other words, no relevant information was given to group members.

"Empathy for women is not only compatible with absolute opposition to abortion but strongly linked to it. Sadly Anne Robinson, instead of showing true empathy for her guests, manufactured a 'consensus' and toasted it with champagne. It appears, though, that the women were not given the counselling some of them wanted and needed."

The truth about abortion

Despite its obvious bias, at times it was impossible for the true nature of abortion to be hidden. Several of the women described the horrific physical pain of a medical abortion, and having to see the dead baby. One participant said: "I wish someone had told me I would see the product of the pregnancy", while another described passing the baby in the shower. The issues of gender selective abortion, the rights of the father, and abortion for disabilities such as Down’s syndrome were also raised.

Anne Robinson also stated that decriminalisation would mean abortion without time limits, which is usually denied by the abortion lobby. The polling the BBC commissioned for the programme found that more of the public (39%) favour keeping abortion within the criminal law than those advocating decriminalisation (34%) but this was not mentioned in the programme.

Manipulating vulnerable women

Margaret Cuthill, who founded the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline said: "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.

"As an abortion recovery counsellor of many years what I saw  in those sharing their experience was the unresolved emotional pain that had taken them to justifying the death of their children by denial.  This includes Anne Robinson, who stated she had not looked at her pain.  Tell the full story stop lying to mothers that their children are disposable!"

If you would like to complain to the BBC about this programme, you can phone on 03700 100 222* or 03700 100 212* (textphone) *24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers Or you can post to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 0UR.

If you or anyone you know is suffering after an abortion call the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline on 0845 603 8501. 

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Comments (7)

  • Philippa Forsdike

    18 October 2017, 2:04pm

    Very helpful summary to pass on to others......which I have just done....urging responses to the BBC asap.

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  • Penny Floyd

    18 October 2017, 9:55pm

    I have just watched the above program . I cried and screamed throughout it !! Women do not just have terminations due to unwanted / unplanned pregnancies and some of us had little or not choice to say goodbye to loved, wanted babies . I had a termination due to a severe fetal heart deformity. My little boy would not live to adulthood and extremely unlikely to survive several heart ops at birth . When Talking and debating abortion people need to speak out about the reality of heartbreaking news at 20 week scan and the painful decision couples make to ensure there baby isn't born suffering with no hope of living a quality life .

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  • Marie Coles

    19 October 2017, 10:40am

    I was extremely disappointed with the program as I had really hoped to hear a balanced viewpoint for a change. I sympathised with the two pro-life people who were clearly being discriminated against and were made to look weak and inadequate. They were surrounded by grieving and bitter people who came across as quite hateful and were only there to justify themselves. The pro abortion lobby wins again but hopefully viewers were able to see through the pretence and realize how unbalanced the program really was. Shame on you Anne Robinson and I thought you were intelligent. Intelligent people would not be dwelling on their own tortured souls but thinking about human rights for both Mother and Child in the womb. Ms. Robinson insisted in spitting out the word 'fetus' even when referring to a baby of 24 weeks plus gestation. The title was misleading. It should have been called 'The Devastation of Women after Abortion'

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  • william spring

    21 October 2017, 8:55am

    This only proves yet again how useless the BBC is.

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  • Ria

    23 October 2017, 9:18am


    I am really sorry for your loss. I hope you consider Rachel's Vinyard or similar post abortion help.

    I believe that you were led to the wrong decision. Some people are told their unborn baby has "no chance" and yet he/she lives into adulthood. Even in cases where baby does miscarry before birth or die in the first few months after birth or in childhood it is a far more natural and healthy physical and psychological grieving for the parents when God (some would say "nature") is allowed to choose the right course.

    Natural death is very different to a deliberate act.

    I write this with great respect for you and a prayer that you will be strengthened and find healing and know that in God nothing is ever really lost:

    "I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life". Pope John Paull 2

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  • Ken

    28 October 2017, 1:52am

    Being an expectant mother is a natural selfless loving act! You do it for the person you've made love with, and you do it for your & your lover's new innocent little child, whether your life or your child's life is at risk or not. I fully appreciate the difficulties that women & men put up with of various reasons, and feel deep compassion for them all, but, it seems that quality of life for those other than the poor innocent child is the selfish easy route, which ultimately causes lifetime scars as evidenced with these women. Very biased & manipulative BBC who prefer to show vast majority in favour of the pro-abortion & pro-life activists. Very sad!!!

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  • Andrew

    5 November 2017, 7:29pm

    About 9 minutes into the programme, Carolyn claimed “our fragile rights are under threat”. This followed Ann Robinson’s statements (partly relating to the US) that “we’re living in a time when powerful opponents of abortion are becoming more vocal”, “there are growing calls to abolish and ban abortion altogether”, and “clinics report an escalation in the numbers of anti-abortion protestors [sic] outside. Pro-choice campaigners are now fighting back”. But the programme contained no evidence that a change in UK law to restrict access to, still less abolish, abortion is at all likely. If anything, the evidence mentioned suggested that at the moment the availability of abortion is not likely to be restricted in the UK, namely the poll finding quoted that “only 3% believe abortion is never acceptable” (about 12 minutes in), and the statement that the Royal College of Midwives had “last year called for abortion to be decriminalised” (about 36 minutes in). The programme seemed designed to attract campaign support in favour of abortion based on a false picture of the influence of pro-life opinion.

    The highly-charged disagreement between Lee and Mo about limiting the number of abortions for the same woman (from about 38 minutes in) appeared to be ‘set up’ and then manipulated in the manner of a TV reality show. Mental health implications of multiple abortions were treated superficially, without any contextual discussion of evidence, in a way calculated to provoke the drawn-out scenes of emotional upset which ensued. This seemed exploitative towards Mo, who withdrew from the programme as a result, as well as being unhelpful for understanding the issues involved.

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