Sunday the 20th of June

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

BBC drama Call the Midwife wrong on illegal abortion story

Popular BBC drama Call the Midwife has been criticised by pro-lifers for its misleading portrayal of the history of backstreet abortions.

The hit show about midwives in London’s East End in the 1960s returned to BBC One in its eighth series earlier this month, and in the first episode featured a controversial storyline on a botched backstreet abortion.

In the episode, nurse Valerie (Jennifer Kirby) helped Cath Hindman (Emily Barber), an aspiring model, with the consequences of the abortion – which was illegal in the UK at this time. Cath went into labour and delivered her dead baby surrounded by the nuns.

Pro-abortion campaigners took to social media to praise the show, with one person tweeting: ‘Well done to #CallTheMidwife for tackling the illegal abortion issue. This is why everyone should have access to free & safe abortion services.’

However, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), pointed out that the subject was not handled well, as the show had ‘sinisterly misled viewers about the history of backstreet abortion and the reality of the procedure itself’.

“It is disappointing that this particular storyline has been used by some to advocate in favour of abortion,” said SPUC’s director of parliamentary communications. “Abortion, whether legal or illegal, can never be safe as it always ends an innocent life and so often damages the mother,” they continued.

“The reality is that nuns at the time of the setting of the drama would have been greatly distressed by the death of an innocent baby. Fifty years of abortion law has deadened the consciences of many today, but back then the moral horror of abortion was widely shared.”

In a blog, titled ‘Don’t Call these Midwives’, SPUC pointed out that the widely perceived belief that countless women were dying of botched backstreet abortions before abortion law was liberalised is ‘entirely deceitful’ and is the result of ‘skewed statistics and propaganda’.

Picture: Characters Cath Hindman and Lesley Whyte (played by Emily Barber and Jordon Stevens) in a scene from the show. (BBC/Neal Street/Nicky Johnston).