The BBC has been pulled into the controversy following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, after one of its news presenters used a controversial term on air.
Today presenter Amol Rajan used the term “pro-life” twice on air to describe anti-abortion campaigners.
During the flagship BBC radio news programme, Rajan eschewed the BBC News style guide which advises journalists to use the term “anti-abortion rather than pro-life” in a discussion about the ruling’s repercussions, and used the latter description in a discussion with the BBC’s North America editor Sarah Smith:
“As you say, Sarah, this is not the end but the end of the beginning. Because for the pro-life groups, for the pro-life coalition, who have been campaigning for this for many, many years, since Roe v Wade actually, they’re very ambitious, aren’t they, there’s a lot more that they want to achieve.”
The second time came during an interview with a North Dakota-based clinician, when he said: “The argument from the pro-life organisations is that life is life.”
Hannah Barham-Brown deputy leader of the UK’s Women’s Equality Party, told the Guardian newspaper the use of “pro-life” was disappointing: “Anti-choice campaigners have long tried to hide behind the facade of being ‘pro-life’ when the reality is that they are anything but – they are really trying to restrict women’s freedoms.”
This criticism comes just a day after another BBC presenter, Sophie Long who fronts Radio 4’s The World Tonight, was criticised for using the phrase “pregnant people” during her programme’s coverage of the Supreme Court ruling, and the enactment in Arkansas of a near-total ban on terminations.
Long was quoting the National Abortion Federation when she reported them saying, “Knowing how many women and pregnant people would now not be able to get care was “devastating.”
The BBC later amended the report on its website.