Not much ado about My Foetus

As reported on MB (5.04.04) Channel 4 was bracing itself for a backlash of complaints for screening 'My Foetus'. The programme made by Julia Black - who previously had an abortion but gave the featured foetus a lucky break by carrying it to term - was the first time an abortion had actually been shown on british TV.

Previous attempts by the Pro Life Alliance to show such disturbing sights in its 1997 election broadcast were banned and became a cause celebre all the way to the House of Lords (who upheld the ban).

While 1.5 million viewers tuned in to see what all the fuss was about, the supposedly shocking sight only outraged 10 viewers enough to complain.

It was good to break the taboo and in doing so Channel 4 was right to show the programme but whether it will contribute much to debate is questionable. It was true to its title and very much about Ms Black's foetus. Rather than opening up the debate it was more of a cathartic journey for the film-maker who was now happily pregnant and wanted to justify her previous abortion to herself - and presumably her audience.

The most pertinent comments came from the doctor she interviewed who openly did not like the procedure but was pragmatic in his approach. His view was that he was carrying out abortions for the benefit of the foetuses as it would be more cruel to bring them to term and into a world where they were not wanted and perhaps even subjected to cruelty and other forms of abuse.

As the Monty Python song goes 'every sperm is sacred' but given the complexities of modern day life we have to question whether society should adopt such a sanctimonious approach over what should be clinical decisions.

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