A controversial new documentary will be the first to break through one of Britain’s last television taboos and show footage of an abortion. And the Catholic Church in England and Wales is supporting it, saying that it "could prove a powerful anti-abortion message."
“My Foetus”, which will be aired on Channel 4 this month, will show a "vacuum-pump" abortion. The results of the three-minute procedure, generally performed on pregnancies under 12 weeks gestation, are then placed on a petri dish. Viewers will see fetuses aborted at 10, 11 and 21 weeks.
In a press release from Channel 4, a spokeswoman for the network said the film uses the images of the abortion procedure in the context of a wider discussion about the fierce debate between pro-life and pro-choice groups.
"Television images of an abortion, disturbing and repulsive as they undoubtedly would be, could prove a powerful anti-abortion message, highlighting the full horror of abortion,” said Archbishop Peter Smith in a written statement. “The truth of what is being done out of the public gaze is the true scandal of abortion. Every day in England and Wales there are 481 abortions on average."
The archbishop, who is also the chairman of the department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, said everyone, especially women, has a right to know what abortion really involves.
“If the tide of public opinion were to be turned by these disturbing images, it would be for the common good," he said. Currently, 23 percent of all pregnancies in Britain now ends in abortion. This figure rises to 36 per cent of pregnancies in women under 20.
The Pro-Life Alliance, banned by broadcasters from showing graphic images of aborted fetuses, said the decision marked "the end of the line for politically-correct censorship by broadcasters." It has welcomed the broadcast, too, and has signaled its intention to use such images in its upcoming general-election campaign.
The network said it has taken steps to ensure “My Foetus” did not breach taste and decency laws. It says the images are "carefully conceptualized" within the wider debate on abortion. It will warn viewers both before and during the program of potentially disturbing images. It has scheduled the broadcast for 11 p.m. and will inform viewers of a support line.