Abortion: Ireland's Guilty Secret?, TV review: BBC3's film reveals there's still a long way to go


Will Dean@willydean
Thursday 05 February 2015 01:00
Assured: BBC3 reporter Alys Harte
Assured: BBC3 reporter Alys Harte

On BBC3, reporter Alys Harte was looking at efforts to decriminalise/keep criminal abortion in both Northern Ireland and the Republic in Abortion: Ireland's Guilty Secret?

The respective arguments on the pro-life/pro-choice are as thoroughly treaded as a public byway, but what makes both places unique for countries with such strict anti-abortion laws is that they're so close to the rest of Britain where it's relatively easy – and legal – to have an abortion. Meaning that the push for change is undermined slightly.

Harte is an assured young presenter, taking us through both side's arguments without much pandering to a presumably youthful audience. This included a few difficult scenes in which she accompanied a woman from Cork to London to have an abortion and an interview with an Afghan doctor who compared religious fundamentalists in Northern Ireland to the Taliban – the difference being that those in Belfast "wear suits".

We also met Youth Defence, a group of slightly scary youngsters whose views on abortion come from the Ian Paisley school of political compromise.

Neither side has much give to give. The death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in Galway in 2012 after being refused an abortion, suggested that change may be due in the Republic. But, as this film proved, there's a long way to go.

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