Claims by a BBC Panorama programme broadcast this week that an investigation had found that “women are being misled and manipulated about abortion by some crisis pregnancy advice centres in the UK” have been challenged by pro-life advocates.
Director of the Good Counsel Network, Clare McCulloch, told Premier, “I think the BBC are totally biased on this issue.”
The BBC reported that the centres operate outside the NHS and tend to be registered charities. Its Panorama programme found that most of these centres say they don't refer women for abortions, “but offer support and counselling for unplanned pregnancies”.
The BBC claims its investigation also revealed that “more than a third of these services give misleading medical information or unethical advice, and sometimes both”.
Ms McCulloch runs a counselling centre for women in central London. Speaking to Premier Christian News she said:
“I've been interviewed several times by the BBC. And I have found that there is completely an agenda there. There's a lot of emphasis on shutting down the pro-life voice at the moment, and they're trying to stop us reaching women wherever we're making contact with them and offering them help.
“When I say ‘they’, I mean the abortion movement, the abortion centres. And even in Parliament. There's a move to bring in buffer zones and things to prevent the pro-life voice reaching women who may be under pressure to have an abortion.”
Those criticisms were echoed by other pro-life voices. Martina Purdy’s Twitter handle says she “walked away from a BBC Northern Ireland Political Correspondent post to follow Jesus Christ.” She tweeted:
“Wouldn't it be great if BBC Panorama spent six months investigating how women are coerced into abortions? And the unethical practices of the abortion centres?”
‘Unborn Lives Matter’ is a pro-life group in Northern Ireland. In their tweet they ask: “Will BBC Panorama interview any one of the thousands of women who have received loving support from pregnancy support centres? Or do their views not apply?”
The BBC reports that Panorama identified 57 pregnancy advice centres, of which it says 21 “centres gave misleading medical information and/or unethical advice about abortion”.
Panorama found that “seven centres said having a termination could lead to "post-abortion syndrome" - a mental health condition likened to post traumatic stress disorder, which is not recognised by the NHS.”
But Clare McCulloch of the Good Counsel Network told Premier: “The idea that no woman ever suffers any kind of emotional distress after an abortion is not something that the general public will accept. I think there are many, many women out there who've had an abortion, and men who have been through an abortion with a partner, who have experienced a wide range of side effects.
“So I think whatever they're saying, the statistic or evidence says, we see many women ourselves who have been through an abortion and have suffered, you know, great psychological trauma as well as some of them suffering a lot of medical problems following their abortion.”
Responding to these criticisms, a BBC spokesperson told Premier: “The Panorama documentary was rigorously researched and produced in accordance with the BBC’s editorial guidelines. The investigation included a wide range of voices, witnesses, and contributors with experience in the field.”