The BBC has this weekend removed a lesson on its educational platform BBC Bitesize following protests that it promoted the views of an “extreme anti-abortion group.”
Health experts had complained that the religious studies revision guide listed arguments against abortion, included the term “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion” and featured a group campaigning for the banning of abortion in Britain, which has a record of promoting misinformation about pain felt by foetuses and a procedure known as “abortion reversal.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) recently celebrated the decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, bringing to an end the constitutional right to abortion of American women.
The group was described on the BBC’s platform as a “pro-life” charity that “advocates for the rights of unborn children,” promotes “the sanctity of human life” and “supports individuals and families through pregnancy.” No pro-choice organisations were mentioned.
Besides the mention of SPUC, the same BBC resource also listed “powerful arguments against abortion” while another section on ‘Alternatives to Abortion’ suggested abstinence, natural family planning but not contraception as ways of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service raised concerns about providing information to teenagers on alternatives to abortion and said it was “absurd” that the diagram did not mention contraception.
The broadcaster told The Guardian newspaper it is now reviewing the material in its religious studies guide, which is aimed at GCSE students aged 15 and 16. The material has been temporarily removed. The BBC told the Guardian the material was based on the WJEC exam board syllabus, which is why it included reference to SPUC.
However, the WJEC’s exam board told the newspaper the study resources featured on the BBC platform had been developed without their involvement, and added that while the WJEC syllabus examined opposing views on abortion, he said, it did not advocate a particular one, and did not endorse the material.
The BBC website says Bitesize guides are “written by teachers and subject experts and are mapped to follow the curricula of the UK.”
This follows criticism of a BBC radio presenter’s repeated use of the term “pro-life” in an interview following the Supreme Court decision. Today news programme presenter Amol Rajan used the term twice on air to describe anti-abortion campaigners.
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