Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 73(2) May 2023

Television Review

Crisis Pregnancy Centres Uncovered. (27/2/23, BBC Panorama)

Reviewed by Pravin Thevasathan

TV Add pictureAs one might expect of the BBC, the programme was distinctly pro-abortion. Only two experts were present: Dr Jonathan Lord, director of an abortion service, and Jo Holmes, a counsellor who said "it's not a baby when you've got a choice. It's a pregnancy." So we all know where she stands. 

The overall message of the Panorama investigation is that women are being manipulated and misled about abortion by some crisis pregnancy centres in the UK. 

A pro-life paediatrician shows us a beautiful ultrasound scan of an unborn child. The heartbeat appears at just 3 weeks. Dr Lord is unhappy that crisis pregnancy centres offer women the opportunity of having scans done. He says: "scans are a tool...we're doing them for a reason." But is not telling a woman what a pregnancy looks like a good reason? So many have been manipulated into thinking that the foetus is just a mass of tissue. Dr Lord rightly says that "medicine is all about informed choice." Also, just maybe Dr Lord is not that keen to be reminded of the sheer humanity of the unborn child. Jo Holmes agrees: ""it's the last thing you'd want to see." 

One woman tells of going to a pregnancy centre and being offered a scan. She saw "two wee babies." Now she is mentally distressed and blames it on seeing the babies.

T S Eliot was right: "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."

Dr Lord dismisses the idea of post abortion syndrome. I [DrThevathasan] used to use the term myself. I now prefer to follow the findings of the paper published by Priscilla Coleman in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry which reported an association between abortion and subsequent mental health problems. There have been several demands that it be retracted. It has not been. The most recent attempt in June 2022 is The Turnway Study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Frontiers is a member of the pro-choice group COPE. As Coleman wryly observes: "it is difficult to reconcile my experience in this matter with their obligations as a member." (Retraction Watch, 29/12/22)

I think it is reasonable to say that while some research suggests there might be an association between abortion and subsequent mental health problems, other studies have not found a link.

Dr Lord completely dismisses any link between abortion and breast cancer. I am no expert in this area. But I have spoken to several experts who do believe there might be a link. Surely more research needs to be done. 

My admiration for those who work in crisis pregnancy centres has grown immensely as a result of watching this. They need our support. As in any worthwhile field of endeavour, and there are few greater than this, there is always room for improvement.