A couple of weeks ago Emily Watson wrote on this site that Britain is on the cusp of a re-education programme in Orwellian Newspeak.
Leading this programme is our national broadcaster – the BBC. The BBC is in a uniquely powerful position to alter perceptions and manipulate meanings.
That of course is what its Charter obligations are meant to protect it and us from – from exploiting its position as the national broadcaster, by stringently complying with the principle of impartiality.
But if we needed an example of how far the BBC has transgressed in this duty – which we don’t – it would be this extract from the BBC’s Style Guide (the document which dictates how BBC journalists write) on the issue of abortion.
This applies whatever your personal views are on the matter.
This, if a reporter is covering an abortion debate in Parliament for example, is what he must do:
“Avoid (the words) pro-abortion, and use pro-choice instead. (Because) Campaigners favour a woman’s right to choose, rather than abortion itself. And use anti-abortion rather than pro-life, except where it is part of the title of a group’s name”.
Unbiased? Neutral? Impartial? I think not. If they applied the same logic to so-called “pro-choice” groups, the BBC’s style guide would demand that they refer to “anti-abortion” groups as “pro-life” too.
However, that I suspect would be no more acceptable to the great and the good at the BBC than it would be to The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas).Though nominally a charity, like the BBC, bpas it also funded by the taxpayer – in their case to carry out two thirds of the nations annual 185,000 abortions under the euphemism of “reproductive choice”. It has, you might say a performance interest, in abortion.
Like bpas the author of the BBC’s Style Guide has as good a grasp of human psychology. Both know that if abortion ‘rights’ were designated as pro abortion and viewed in this light, rather less establishment and public support might be forthcoming than it is at present.
To be ‘pro’ is to be on the side of the angels. To be ‘anti’ is on the side of the devil.
Though there are two conflicting lobbies on the question of the desirability of abortion only one of them, the BBC has dictated, must have its ‘positive’ spin endorsed and relayed.
Arguably the guideline is probably now unnecessary so ingrained is the pro-abortion mindset at the BBC. A recent Newsnight feature on the Zika virus is a case in point (January 28). The entire feature was framed in terms of the lack of abortion rights in Brazil, as though that was the only conceivable response to the problem of possible (but not yet substantiated) birth defects. The only person interviewed was an abortion activist in conversation with, you’ve guessed, the clearly pro-abortion Kirsty Wark.
On the BBC, birth defects equal abortion. The only reason that old age does not yet (quite) equal euthanasia at the Big Brother Broadcasting Corporation I guess, is that the baby boomer generation is still in control at the top of the Corporation. Perhaps they are getting too close to their maker themselves. Even so, the language of “assisted dying” is to euthanasia what pro-choice is to pro-abortion – a whitewash of the facts, which in the case of abortion are that:
- Two thirds of Britain’s annual 185,000 abortions (which are double the rate of 1970) are repeat abortions.
- 3,000 are performed on girls under 16
- These figures exclude the ‘emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill which has close to one million users – some taking it regularly, many buying it over-the-counter at chemists, and some getting it free at school.
Of course, the term ‘pro choice’ is as deceptive as it is inaccurate – which of course is what makes it so persuasive. Choice is a huge and inclusive concept. Is there any reason to suppose that somebody who is in favour of legal abortion actually really believes in choice in any other respect (for example, choice as to whether one buys BBC television services)? One suspects otherwise, so reluctant are the pro-abortionists to countenance openness and honesty regarding the downside of abortion – not least the way it has become a rather brutal form of contraception. For an open and unbiased investigation of the culture of abortion there is little hope from the BBC. Their linguistic ruling precludes it.