A BBC drama lauded for its ‘realism’ has depicted a group of pro-life campaigners as violent extremists.
Clips from the drama
WARNING: Viewers may find some scenes disturbing.
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Hunter, which was shown earlier this week on BBC 1, features an investigation into the disappearance of two boys.
It transpires that they have been kidnapped by three pro-lifers: a doctor, a nurse, and a charity worker who suffers from spina bifida. The boys were chosen because their mothers had had terminations in the past.
The police are sent photographs of the children next to the word “sacred”, and told that unless a pro-life campaign film is shown by the BBC, the children will be killed.
When their demands are refused, the kidnappers kill one of the boys using a lethal injection.
Real pro-life campaigner, Josephine Quintavalle (left), and the actress playing a pro-life killer in the BBC drama.
The actress playing one of the pro-life kidnappers bears a striking resemblance to real pro-life campaigner, Josephine Quintavalle, who battled with the BBC in 1997 over the broadcaster’s decision to censor a party political broadcast by the Pro-Life Alliance.
In the drama one of the clues leading the police to the group is a membership list of a committee of pro-lifers organising events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967. Such events were organised in 2007 by the Pro-life Alliance and others.
According to press reports, writer Mike Ford aimed to make the drama “as accurate as possible”.
BBC controller Kate Harward said: “In Hunter, Mick Ford has created a rare thing – a suspenseful thriller which is driven by human characters and the day to day detail of the real world”.
But real pro-life campaigners have protested at the way their cause has been painted in the drama.
Pat Buckley of the European Life Network said: “I wonder if the BBC would care to explain why telling such hate-ridden lies about pro-life campaigners does not constitute a hate crime?
“Besides the insult and injustice of such a portrayal, promoting the false suggestion to millions of viewers that pro-lifers are violent and dangerous leaves pro-life campaigners at increased risk of violent attack themselves.
“Stigmatising and inciting hatred against any group leaves them vulnerable to attack by people who are genuinely led to believe that they are a threat to society.”
Pro-life blogger Richard Marsden wrote: “There is not a shred of evidence of any incident in real life where anti-abortionists have used abduction, murder and violence to attempt to further their cause.
“This is almost like making a programme depicting William Wilberforce’s supporters using rape and murder to further their anti-slavery cause.”
He adds: “[The BBC], like the establishment, don’t really like the pro-life movement.
“So, as well as censor their message, the BBC also likes to portray these campaigners as violent, malicious and horrific so that they are dismissed to the sidelines of debate.”