Wednesday, 9 October 2013
The Nolan Show is occasionally capable of some of the worst examples of local journalism. The episode earlier this year where they covered the flag protest should live in infamy. Inviting a crowd of sectarian bigots who had actually scared off a lot of the people who had ordered their tickets because you don't want an empty studio was ill considered at best and calculated irresponsible sensationalism at worst. The show does from time to time throw up the odd surprise.
Tonights episode was something else.
They took on the abortion issue and the ambiguities in the law here by talking to the family of a woman who found out that the foetus she was carrying basically didn't have a head and wouldn't live long after the birth and the amount of shit that she and her family have been through. He had the Womans mother on the panel, Rosie Ward from the Christian Medical Centre on the other chair towing the fundamentalist Christian party line, Bernie Smith of anti choice group Precious Life in the audience, Goretti Horgan from Alliance For Choice and Breedagh Hughes from the royal college of midwives making an appearance by satellite. Nolan himself, who was definitely on the right side of this one, was chairing the whole thing as usual and let the facts speak for themselves without letting his ego get in the way of the debate, which made a nice change.
It made the family's dilemma quite clear and it also exposed the inhuman hateful attitudes of Precious Life to a T. Some of it was brutal, both in good and bad ways. Smith got a complete rinsing from Nolan and the mother of the woman, she was basically made to admit that she would force a woman against her will to carry a foetus that was going to die to full term and when presented with the Womans account of being harassed outside a FPA centre by her own activists she refused to condemn their behaviour. Its that sort of thing that has the potential to actually shift people on this issue.
I also noticed that That last chap to speak from the floor on tonights Nolan Show IS actually one of those creepy anti-choice people that stand outside the FPA on Shaftsbury square. I pass there going to work all the time and I recognise his face. The pictures they use of "aborted Fetus" as part of their scare tactics aren't taken from abortions at all, they are actually miscarriages. Precious Life seem to have clocked that this one didn't go at all well for them and seem to be shitting themselves, and are actually calling for a campaign against the Nolan Show on twitter now. Good. Picketing people who are emotionally distressed isn't cool, even people I know who would be quite anti abortion are disgusted by their actions, something Nolan seemed happy to call Smith on. Seeing the mother of the victim of that behaviour confronting Bernie Smith is probably going to be my TV highlight of the year.
Goretti played an absolute blinder explaining the political realities of the situation but wasn't on it for long enough. The woman who was on representing the Royal College of midwives called the current legislative guidance from the NI assembly around abortion and the legalities of the women who travel to Britain to get it done "intimidatory and threatening".
There were a few niggles, but it was extremely well done. If you haven't seen it catch it on iPlayer