BBC defiant at giving voice to anti-abortion activist on Nolan
The BBC has defended inviting a controversial anti-abortion activist on to one of its most popular TV shows.
Susan Anne White, who has been heavily criticised in the past for her views on homosexuality, abortion and feminism, appeared on Wednesday night's Nolan Live.
She was discussing news that women in Northern Ireland will be permitted to travel to the UK for abortions.
Her appearance prompted an inevitable Twitter storm.
Defending its decision to invite Mrs White on to the programme, a BBC Northern Ireland spokeswoman said: "Nolan Live gives viewers an opportunity to take part in debating the stories making the headlines.
"It is always our intention to fairly reflect different viewpoints and provide an inclusive space for debate. Everything that we do is informed by the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and the public interest."
Wednesday night's Nolan Live came as the Supreme Court in London heard an appeal seeking to overturn the restrictions on abortions in Northern Ireland on the grounds that the laws breach human rights. Mrs White was among panel members discussing the issue.
She told the show: "The law shouldn't be changed; in Northern Ireland the law isn't strong enough. If I had power I would abolish abortion completely."
When challenged about her hardline position in cases involving rape or incest, Mrs White replied: "If you sacrifice the life of the child you're going to have two victims." She added: "Why should the innocent child be punished for the sins of its father? Punish the rapist. Go after the rapist. Imprison him... That's punishment."
Rejecting abortion in instances of fatal foetal abnormality, Mrs White commented: "Doctors are not infallible. They are not God. They get it wrong." The born-again Christian also claimed that it was "very rare" for rape to result in pregnancy and she expressed the view that "the sexual revolution is behind this drive for abortion".
She added: "These feminists want to live lives of sexual anarchy. And they want to be able to take care of the consequences of this sexual anarchy - unplanned pregnancy - that's why they want abortion."
It prompted an angry online backlash, with Alliance leader Naomi Long among those to criticise her comments. She wrote on Twitter: "This is appalling. Susan Anne White is clearly not a well person but her words cause so much harm to so many women."
TUV leader Jim Allister blasted Ms Long's view as "patronising and condescending".
"We all have the right to free speech and it's a right to be exercised according to the conscience of the individual and with regard to any restraints there might be within the law," he said.
"It's not for others to set themselves up and to seek to inhibit or deny that right to an individual, nor is it up to someone to be as patronising or condescending as to question the mental capacity of someone they disagree with, no matter how unpalatable their views might be."
Mrs White, a 58-year-old farmer's wife, came to prominence when she stood in the 2014 council elections with a controversial manifesto. An eyebrow-raising list - featuring pledges to 'Make adultery a punishable offence', 'Oppose feminism and restore dignity to the stay at home mother', 'Restore capital punishment for murder, including terrorist murder', and 'Oppose the LGBT agenda' - made her a target of ridicule at the time.
Despite only a handful of votes, she sought to become MP for West Tyrone the following year, but made little impact.