Home Training BBC Bitesize gave platform to ‘extreme’ anti-abortion group | BBC

BBC Bitesize gave platform to ‘extreme’ anti-abortion group | BBC


A lesson on the BBC website promoting the views of an against abortion the group was removed by the broadcaster this weekend after backlash from health experts.

A religious studies guide on BBC Bitesize, the broadcaster’s educational resource, lists the “strong arguments” against abortion used term “for life” rather than “anti-abortion” and introduced a page dedicated to a vocal campaign group that wants abortion to be banned in Britain.

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) has a history of promoting misinformation in schools and was exposed in a 2019 launch Toy Story-thematic campaign aimed at children who falsely claim that fetuses can feel pain 10 weeks after conception.

The broadcaster said it was currently reviewing material in its religious studies guide, which covers Catholic views on life and death and is aimed at 15 and 16 year-old GCSE students.

The SPUC has also repeatedly advertised on its website a procedure known as “cancellation” abortion, which medical organizations have condemned as unproven and potentially dangerous. And last week, the US decision to cancel was noted Roe v. Wade – Supreme Court ruling protecting women’s right to abortion across the country – as a “great day of justice” [and the] unborn”.

Despite their track record, the band has been described uncritically BBC Bitesize is a pro-life charity that “advocates for the rights of the unborn”, promotes the “sanctity of human life” and “supports individuals and families during pregnancy”. Pro-choice organizations were not mentioned.

Critics said the material, which is part of the BBC’s Bitesize resource, based on the WJEC exam board programme, failed to clearly distinguish fact from opinion and threatened to expose children to “harmful” misinformation.

Lisa Hallgarten, head of policy at Brooke, the national sexual health charity, called the training materials “shocking” and “problematic in many ways”. . “To point to an organization that is very unreliable when it comes to factual information is problematic because you give it credibility,” she said. “It’s not abstract for young people; this is real life. We really need to avoid sending people to organizations that are not going to be useful to them.”

In addition to the SPUC, BBC resource Bitesize listed the “strong arguments” against abortion, including that it “denies choice to the unborn child” and makes human life “cheap and disposable”.

In another section, a chart called Alternatives Abortion offered sexual abstinence and natural family planning as solutions to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and “financial support” as an alternative to termination, but did not mention contraception.

Britain’s pregnancy advice service, which deals with abortion, has expressed concern about information given to teenagers about alternatives to abortion and said it was “absurd” that the chart offered abstinence and natural family planning but made no mention of contraception.

BBC Bitesize chart titled Alternatives to Abortion. Photo: BBC Bitesize

Humanists UK, a charity which promotes secularism, said it was vital for the teaching of religious studies to highlight different views and encourage structured debate. But Robert Kahn, education campaigns manager, said the SPUC’s inclusion was inappropriate given its “track record of promoting extreme views on abortion to children in a way that is just wrong.”

“We need to be very careful if his name and resources are placed uncritically on a children’s self-directed GCSE RE revision course,” he said.

He also criticized the resource for not reflecting the views of the majority of Catholics. Polls have shown that the majority support abortion and the use of contraception. “This resource means that Christians, and Catholics in particular, will invariably oppose abortion. But this is the opposite of the truth – we know that back in 2013, less than 7% of the population said they were against abortion, including only 14% of Catholics – numbers that have only decreased since then,” he said. said. “All of this needs an overhaul to be presented in a more critical, objective and pluralistic manner.”

The BBC said on Friday it was investigating the resource and it had been “temporarily removed” in the meantime. The spokeswoman added that the resource was based on the WJEC exam board syllabus, so it contained a link to SPUC.

But although it is targeted at a specific group, the resource is publicly available on the broadcaster’s website and links to it appear high in Google results for searches related to SPUC, abortion and the BBC.

The BBC website says the Bitesize guides are “written by teachers and subject experts and aligned with the UK curriculum”.

WJEC, the exam board whose material is intended to accompany the BBC guide, has distanced itself from the teaching material. “The resources developed by BBC Bitesize have been produced without input from our religious studies team and are therefore not endorsed by WJEC,” the spokesperson said. Although WJEC’s program addresses opposing views on abortion, he said he is not advocating any particular one.

The Society for the Defense of the Unborn said it could not comment on the BBC’s resource, but its own content is based on “the scientific facts of life before birth”. A spokesperson accused pro-choice groups of “sanitizing abortion.”

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