BBC grossly exaggerated number of women directly ordering abortion pills from overseas providers FOI reveals

Data released today (22/07) as a result of a Freedom Of Information request by Right To Life UK, shows that the BBC grossly exaggerated the actual number of women in the UK who have ordered illegal abortion pills online from overseas.

BBC coverage from 2017 implied that increasingly large numbers of individual women were directly ordering abortion pills from website overseas. This in turn suggested that there had been an increased demand from individual women for illegal abortion pills over a number of years.

However, the BBC’s presentation of the facts was extremely misleading. They disclosed the total number of abortion pills that have been seized each year since 2013, but failed to disclose that only one or two parcels of abortion pills had actually been seized each year.

So, instead of the hundreds of individuals apparently illegally ordering abortion pills online, the Freedom of Information request showed only a handful of individuals had ordered parcels containing abortion pills.

The data has been released as abortion campaigners seek to use alleged demand from women for illegal online abortion pills as a rationale for introducing a new radical abortion law to England and Wales.

In fact, the data obtained from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that between 2013 and 2016 only 6 parcels containing abortion pills were seized at the border.

Operation Pangea seizures of abortion pills


2013201420152016
Number of abortion pills seized:5180270375
Actual number of parcels (not reported by BBC):1122

A spokesperson for Right To Life, Clare McCarthy said:

It is very disappointing that the BBC have mislead the public around this. They appear to have mislead the public by omitting the vital point in their reporting that only one or two parcels a year had actually been seized, rather than hundreds.

Anyone who read the original coverage on this would have been lead to believe that 100s of individual women were ordering abortion pills online from overseas providers. The data released today shows that this likely not the case at all.

In fact, only a very small number of parcels had been imported by either a couple of individuals or possibly by abortion campaigners to make it appear that there was a very high demand from individual women. The BBC have selectively reported this misleading figure, leading the public to believe there was much higher demand from individual women for abortion pills from online overseas providers than is likely actually the case.
We are calling on the BBC to correct all the coverage they have given this issue and publicly commit to balanced reporting on this issue in the future.

BBC calls abortion amendment “exciting titbit”

The BBC have revealed a deep pro-abortion bias by referring to controversial amendments, including an amendment attempting to introduce abortion to Northern Ireland, as “exciting titbits” (a phrase which has since been removed).

In the build up to yesterday’s debate on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, the BBC drew attention to three amendments which were the subject of much debate. After explaining that it is the Speaker of the House who has the authority to decide which amendments are accepted, the BBC article said

“But, if chosen, there are three exciting titbits that could make this bill more than just a straightforward government measure.” [emphasis added]

One of the “exciting titbits” to which the BBC refer was an amendment concerning abortion in Northern Ireland.

For reasons unknown, the BBC has subsequently changed this sentence to say:

“But, if chosen, there are three amendments that could make this bill more than just a straightforward government measure.”

Right To Life UK’s Clare McCarthy said: “The pro-abortion bias of the BBC is on clear display in this statement and its hurried revision. The national broadcaster has a duty to remain neutral in its dissemination of news, and this kind of statement speaks volumes about their attitude to abortion.”

“Referring to a radical abortion amendment is an ‘exciting titbit’ trivalises an immensely important issue with far reaching consequences not only for mothers and their unborn babies in Northern Ireland, but also potentially for the rest of the UK.”

“This ‘exciting titbit’ also threatens to undermine devolution, makes a mockery of parliamentary process, and the language stands in stark contrast to the BBC’s own style guide which says ‘[a]bortion is a very painful topic’ and is ‘one of the most polarising moral issues’.

Woman shares her abortion story on the BBC in front of an abortion doctor

On Tuesday 2nd July, in a panel discussion on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme which included an abortion doctor, a woman who regrets her abortion revealed that she “wasn’t well informed” about what her abortion would involve.

Laura Mann had an abortion at 21 weeks when she was 19, during the course of the discussion said “ in hindsight I know that I wasn’t well informed… when I came out of Marie Stopes… the first thing that went through my mind was ‘Where’s my baby, what’s happened to the body of my baby?’ And I kept asking myself that question.”

She felt under “so much pressure” to have an abortion with “[a]ll the voices around [her] at the time time… telling [her she] couldn’t do it.”

Laura said: “[W]hen I went into to discuss that I am pregnant the first option I was given, was abortion. We stepped out of the room, we spoke for 5 minutes went back in, and I was so afraid, so confused. I had no clue what to do.”

After the abortion she was escorted to the recovery room by a nurse. She was “sobbing” because she was in so much pain and the nurse said to her, “You silly girl, don’t you know what you’ve done?”.

Laura said how that put a shockwave through her system and made her so depressed.

“[W]hen I left that clinic, that was the beginning of my nightmare.” she added

Laura went on to say that since then, she has come to terms with her abortion, and it was the recognition of what abortion really is, that helped her in her healing process.

Dr Calum Miller, also on the program, said that: “Often the medical profession hides behind euphemistic terminology… people know its a baby, whereas often it’s described as ‘products of conception’, or ‘a pregnancy’ or ‘pregnancy tissue’.

Dr Miller’s claims are evidenced by the fact that Marie Stopes International, the abortion provider who failed to fully inform Laura of the reality of abortion, in fact uses these terms on their own website and in their own literature.

Clare McCarthy from Right To Life UK said:

“Sadly, what happened to Laura, the pressure she was under and the offer of an abortion as the default option, is all too familiar. She is right to ask why is it that what actually happens in an abortion is kept such a secret. She is right to feel let down by Marie Stopes who did not fully inform her about what would happen to her baby.”

“The truth is that abortion providers do hide behind euphemistic language to conceal the reality of what they’re doing. The abortion doctor even confirmed this on the show saying that when informing patients before an abortion, they “don’t want to frighten patients”, making it quite clear that if they did explain the truth, it would horrify these women.” 

“Women like Laura deserve the truth about abortion and more women like her need the opportunity to speak out and share their story of the hurt caused by abortion.”

RTL Criticises Biased BBC Documentary ‘Abortion On Trial’ Ahead of 50th Anniversary of Abortion Act 1967

Right To Life is criticising the BBC’s documentary, ‘Abortion On Trial’, a programme that was markedly one-sided not only in the people who formed the panel of people discussing the issue of abortion at the centre of the show, but the ‘experts’ who were brought on to discuss the issue with them, and the way the issue was framed by the programme.

The programme was presented not by a neutral observer, but by Anne Robinson, who is herself strongly in favour of legalised abortion, having been through an abortion herself in the late 60s. Of the 9 people the programme included in the group that joined her, only 2 were opposed to abortion, and only one of those consistently. The rest broadly believed in a permissive approach to abortion, albeit with individual reasons for opposing or being uncomfortable with certain reasons for having it.

The discussion of these individuals was influenced by individuals invited to talk to them, including a veteran campaigner for legal and permissive abortion practice, Diane Munday, and Lord Steel, the principal architect of the Abortion Act 1967. By contrast, no veteran or Parliamentary opponent of abortion was allowed to talk to the group. Munday and Steel both discussed the concept of ‘decriminalisation’ (the removal of criminal penalties for illegal abortions) which as Right To Life has pointed out before, if ever affected would lead to a situation of abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks or even up to birth. These implications of such a move were never discussed in the programme.

A moving account by an agoraphobic woman who endured an illegal abortion at home because she could not face getting one in a licensed abortion facility, emotionally manipulating the group into making abortion able to happen in women’s homes. Yet by contrast no one expressing health and safety concerns of the idea of home abortions, or any similarly moving account of a woman who suffered at the hands of abortion providers, or who chose not to go through an abortion and was glad of it, were shown.

Much of the second half of the programme was spent on a discussion as to whether men should be involved in abortion decisions, and have legal rights concerning the same, despite this never having been a proposal or issue in the British abortion debate. Whilst it was refreshing to see at least one man who had suffered from the abortion of his child, and the admission that men have a legitimate right to an opinion concerning abortion, the views expressed by him were emotionally insensitive and utterly unrepresentative of the right-to-life movement.

Indeed, insofar as the broader right-to-life movement was shown at all, it was only very briefly in the context of vigils outside abortion facilities, and a single March in Birmingham. Even these were only partially presented, and no attempt was apparently made to seek out larger or more established campaign groups or charities, such as Right To Life, Life, or CORE.

Finally, whilst a model of a 24-week old baby was shown in a discussion of foetal viability and the upper limit for most abortions, the issue of the humanity and development of the unborn child, which is crucial context to the abortion discussion, was left otherwise entirely unaddressed.

Added to all this imbalance, was the objectionable citation of polling within the programme, only two questions of the underlying data for which have been properly released. No mention was made of past polling to contextualise the findings of this polling. In May, polling by ComRes found that 59% of UK women wanted the upper limit for abortion to be reduced to at least 16 weeks (70% said at least 20 weeks), 91% wanted an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion (which Abortion on Trial spent less than a minute discussing), and 65% opposed British taxpayer money paying for abortions overseas. Only 2% wanted the upper abortion limit to be raised, which is what the ‘decriminalisation’ the group on the programme came to support came to support: an extreme minority position.

In all, this was an occasionally interesting, but overall deeply imbalanced and one-sided programme, set up in such a way so as to affirm certain pre-decided conclusions that fit with the agenda of the abortion lobby: ‘decriminalisation’ of abortion, and chemically-induced miscarriages at home. Nowhere near enough weight was given to concerns and questions raised by the right-to-life movement that show much more support by the public at large.

RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams, said:

“This was a badly biased BBC programme, which showed little-to-no concern for a fair-minded presentations of even the most basic issues of abortion.

Had the BBC been interested in a serious-minded programme that truly looked into all the areas of public interest concerning this sensitive issue, so as to properly inform the audience, they would have included pro-life guests to speak to the central group, included more people with right-to-life sympathies in the group itself, more properly characterised the implications of ‘decriminalisation’, and discussed issues such as the humanity of the unborn child or the harm that permissive abortion has brought to our society.

In the end, this programme was misleading and unhelpful as much due to what it left out as what it included. I hope any programming in the near future that coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Abortion Act attempts a more balanced approach”.

END