Outcry as BBC depicts
pro-lifers as killers
By Andrew M Brown
23 January 2009
Catholics and media standards campaigners protested this week at
BBC One’s broadcast of a thriller showing pro-life activists as child murderers.
In Hunter two police officers played by Hugh Bonneville and Janet McTeer investigate the abduction of two boys. A hooded figure delivers a package to a television station’s offices containing a video showing footage of an abortion. The kidnappers threaten that unless the video is screened on the news the two children will be killed.
Josephine Quintavalle of the ProLife Alliance said she was “outraged” at the BBC’s presentation of the movement, given that the alliance had tried to show an abortion on television when it was a political party.
Mrs Quintavalle said: “Everyone should be outraged at such a manipulative representation of abortion politics. There is nothing in Hunter which has any relationship to the abortion debate as played out in the UK, and I think turning the other cheek is not an option.” She encouraged members of her organisation to protest to the BBC. The concluding episode was, in Mrs Quintavalle’s view, the worst.
John Beyer, from Mediawatch-UK, said television companies should apply the same rules of impartiality to drama programmes as they do to current affairs output in cases where “ethical, political or moral issues” were being aired.
“This clearly concerns a lot of people,” he said. “I really think the broadcaster should observe proper impartiality. Anybody who’s undecided could be persuaded because TV is an influence for good or bad,” Mr Beyer said the same concerns would apply in a forthcoming television drama about euthanasia In the final episode the pro-life campaigners who have abducted the boys proceed to kidnap a small girl who has spina bifida. The kidnappers are a female doctor and a nurse from a neonatal intensive care unit, as well as a man who has a less severe case of spina bifida. The criminals have used their access to medical records to unearth details of patients who have had abortions. The kidnapped children have the feature in common that their mothers have all had abortions.
When the BBC fail to screen the abortion video on the news as demanded by the kidnappers, the nurse kills one of the boys and lays his body in a blanket embroidered with the word “sacred”.
It turns out that abortion runs through the lives of the central characters. At the end, Detective Sgt Foster says: “Thank God for abortion, I say. It would have ruined my life.”
A spokesman for the BBC was unavailable for comment.