BBC to broadcast programme live from abortion clinic
THE BBC is to air a two-hour radio show live from an abortion clinic, in a programme expected to make broadcasting history.
Due to air next month, it will feature interviews with women undergoing terminations as well as doctors and counsellors at the clinic.
Pro-life campaigners criticised the move, saying it amounted to “free advertising” for abortion, but pro-choice advocates welcomed the programme, saying it was a chance for it to be presented in a way that was not “couched in terms of controversy”.
Victoria Derbyshire, who will present the show on BBC Radio Five Live, said it would “give us an insight into an area of British life which is taboo”.
Derbyshire said it was not the purpose of the programme to weigh the arguments for and against abortion, saying that “the pro and anti view is well known”.
The clinic involved in the programme has yet to be named but is likely to be identified, according to the Independent.
Derbyshire told the newspaper: “Our point on that day is to bring new insights into areas of British life.
“What we want to do is to talk to everybody involved who works in a clinic – the receptionist, the doctors, the consultants, the counsellors, and, if patients agree, we will talk to them.
"We appreciate the sensitivity around it and I would hope listeners would trust us to do it carefully."
But a spokeswoman for the Prolife Alliance said: “This latest initiative from the abortion lobby will inevitably provide free advertising for the organisation in question which surely cannot qualify as an exercise in objective journalism.”
Meanwhile Mark Bhagwandin, a spokesman for LIFE, said: “We strongly urge the BBC not to proceed with this programme.”
He said it was “baffling” that it was being suggested that abortion was “taboo”, given that hundreds were carried out every day.
Mr Bhagwandin added: “It seems to me that the objective of this programme would be to promote that particular abortion clinic and, by extension, the abortion industry, at a time when it is reeling from allegations of improper conduct.”
Abortion has been at the centre of controversy recently after a Daily Telegraph investigation found women were being granted terminations on the basis of gender.
Darinka Aleksic, campaign coordinator for Abortion Rights, welcomed the programme.
She said: “There is so much scaremongering and misinformation about abortion, in the media and especially online, that any move to destigmatise the procedure is a step forward.
“Provided it is handled sensitively, then this could be a useful way to let women know about the reality of abortion: that it is a safe, legal and common medical procedure.
“I am quite glad to see it not couched in terms of controversy for once.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Victoria Derbyshire’s programme from the clinic and our coverage later that day will be robust and challenging and will offer an opportunity for both sides to discuss their views”.