BBC Bitesize, a free online educational platform, is offered to students throughout the United Kingdom by the BBC. This support service is designed to help with schoolwork and exams for students 15-16 years old, but is a public resource, available to the public on the broadcaster’s website. Earlier this week the BBC removed a lesson from the online tool after protests claiming the lesson promoted anti-abortion views.
According to the Guardian, the lesson was a part of the Religious Studies Revision Guide on Bitesize, and used the term “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion,” allegedly shared “powerful arguments” against abortion, and featured The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). This organization works against abortion in the United Kingdom and promotes abortion pill reversal.
SPUC was described on Bitesize as a “pro-life” charity that “advocates for the rights of unborn children,” promotes “the sanctity of human life,” and “supports individuals and families through pregnancy.”
The same Bitesize resource shared “Alternatives to Abortion,” a section suggesting abstinence and natural family planning for preventing pregnancy. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion provider, said was “absurd” that contraceptives were not mentioned.
The BBC told The Guardian newspaper that the lesson, which was aimed at 15–16-year-olds, has been temporarily removed from its programming. The material was written by teachers and subject experts and mapped to follow the UK curriculum. This guide was intended for GCSE students (General Certificate of Secondary Education) and based upon the WJEC exam board syllabus, which explained this as the reason SPUC was mentioned. The WJEC, formally the Welsh Joint Education Committee, is an examination board providing examinations, professional development and educational resources to schools and colleges in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
WJEC’s exam board said the Bitesize resource had been created without their input and had not been endorsed by them. They said the syllabus does involve various views on abortion, but WJEC does not advocate for a particular one. Additionally, medical professionals spoke negatively of the religious studies revision guide for featuring quotes by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
The pro-life group said its own content is based on “scientific facts surrounding life before birth.” It added, “It is common practice for both sides of a debate to be represented. It is to be expected that SPUC, as the UK’s largest pro-life organization, would be included in a BBC Bitesize resource on abortion. This would ensure fair representation.”
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