ICM found very little public support for 'decriminalisation'

The BBC has been accused of suppressing a survey that shows the British public do not want more liberal abortion laws.

Polling firm ICM found little support for so-called “decriminalisation” of abortion in a survey commissioned for the BBC’s Abortion on Trial show. However, when the programme aired last week, it made no mention of that result.

The Mail on Sunday reports that producers “cherry picked” favourable results, such as that 87 per cent of religious people support abortion in some circumstances.

Although only three per cent said it was never acceptable for a woman to have an abortion, less than half of respondents (46 per cent) approve of abortion in the case of rape, and only 45 per cent think it is acceptable if the mother’s life is in danger.

Also, despite a concerted campaign from abortion lobbyists for “decriminalisation”, only six per cent think there should be no legal time limit on abortion.

Over half of respondents (54 per cent) think a woman should consult the unborn child’s father before having an abortion – although only 15 per cent think it should be a legal requirement – while just 21 per cent think he should have no role and “it’s a woman’s right to choose”.

There is also strong opposition to abortion in the case of disability.

The programme, presented by Anne Robinson, involved a debate between nine people on abortion. It also featured Lord Steele, the architect of the 1967 Abortion Act, who called for full decriminalisation, and a pro-abortion campaigner who favours sex-selective terminations.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce said: “How can people be expected to have a fair and proper debate if facts are suppressed?

“It undermines credibility to cherry-pick polling results to reflect a lobby which programme makers may be sympathetic.”

The BBC responded to the accusation: “It is completely wrong to suggest that the BBC suppressed the results of the poll.

“They were released to the press prior to transmission, were referred to throughout the programme and have been published in full on the ICM website.

“The production team went to great lengths to ensure ‘Abortion on Trial’ was fair and impartial, using expert consultants (both anti-abortion and pro-choice), including contributors representing a wide range of perspectives and experiences.”