BBC criticised over 'hatchet job' attack on pro-life crisis pregnancy centres

BBC criticised over 'hatchet job' attack on pro-life crisis pregnancy centres
Mar 2023

BBC criticised over 'hatchet job' attack on pro-life crisis pregnancy centres

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

The BBC has been accused of bias over an episode about pro-life crisis pregnancy centres by its flagship investigative programme, 'Panorama'.

The Panorama team sent a woman in undercover with hidden cameras to three centres across the UK and secretly recorded conversations with staff.

One of them was the Tyneside Pregnancy Advice Centre (TPAC) in Newcastle, which has a Christian ethos and offers advice to women but does not provide abortions.

The advice given was critiqued by representatives of the abortion industry, Dr Jonathan Lord, UK Medical Director of MSI Reproductive Choices, formerly Marie Stopes International, and Katherine O'Brien, Associate Director of Communications and Campaigns at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

The centre was told by a producer ahead of the programme airing that it had been "manipulative and deceitful" to use ultrasound during the advisory session.

The Christian Institute said that ultrasounds "are one of the most frequently requested services at the centre" and not a "tactic" as suggested by the programme.

It has accused Panorama of carying out a "hatchet job" attack on the centre.

TPAC director and NHS paediatrician, Chris Richards, said in a statement responding to the programme: ""TPAC has a 14-year track record of compliance with all of its regulatory obligations. Over 1,200 women have benefitted from the work of our staff and volunteers.

"Panorama could have sought journalistic balance by approaching us directly. Instead, your activist production team chose the prejudicial medium of a secret recording to seek to discredit a registered charity that provides free services to women who request them.

"Our staff member quickly realised the person she was dealing with was a bad faith actor.

"Anyone who reads our website can see where we are coming from. We are not a campaigning organisation. TPAC has never received any funding from US anti-abortion groups, and the BBC ought to know better than to peddle conspiracy theories."

Pro-life group, Right To Life UK, is encouraging people to make an official complaint to the BBC about the "lack of balance" and "obvious bias" in the episode.

Spokesperson Catherine Robinson said "This was clearly a hit piece designed to do damage to the credibility of people throughout the UK who give many hours of their own time each year to volunteer to support women facing unplanned pregnancies so they are able to continue their pregnancies."