Fetal Pain Researchers Failed to Disclose Abortion Affiliations

This past Wednesday, JAMA published a review of research into fetal pain. The researchers concluded that fetuses are not physically capable of feeling pain until sometime after the 28th week. (No surprise there – you can’t feel pain if you don’t have a working cerebral cortex). The JAMA report conflicts with a proposed pro-life law, which would require women seeking abortion to be told that their fetuses will suffer pain, and would require anesthetic for the fetus (which can complicate the procedure).

Now it turns out that three of the article’s five authors had potential conflicts of interest.

The editor, Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis, of The Journal of the American Medical Association, said in an interview that had she been aware of the activities, the journal most likely would have mentioned them. But she added that the disclosure would not have kept the article from being published, because editors and outside experts who had read the manuscript before publication had found it scientifically sound.

One author, Susan J. Lee, a medical student, is also a lawyer who for eight months from 1999 to 2000 worked in the legal department at Naral, an abortion rights group. Another author, Dr. Eleanor A. Drey, performs abortions and is medical director of an abortion clinic.

Neither tried to conceal those activities from reporters before the journal article was published. [...] Anti-abortion groups criticized the journal’s failure to mention the two authors’ work and said their backgrounds revealed a bias that cast doubt on their findings.

In addition, a third author, Mark Rosen, is a professor and vice-chair of the University of California – San Francisco’s department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, which is affiliated with the women’s health clinic Dr. Drey runs. (That’s a very weak connection, but many pro-lifers seem to consider it a big deal, so I thought I should mention it.)

Pro-life blogger GrannyGrump comments:

So the results of this “study” boil down to the equivalent of research by R. J. Reynolds showing that cigarette smoke doesn’t have any effect on children.

A few points.

  • The researchers didn’t think it was necessary to point out that an oby-gyn performs abortions (what a shock!), or that a student who worked on this study, also worked for NARAL for less than a year over five years ago. Clearly, the researchers were wrong. The researchers should have disclosed all their affiliations to JAMA, even ones that seemed obvious or minor, and let JAMA’s editors decide if they were relevant or not.
  • GrannyGrump’s argument is an Ad Hominem. Logically, research is legitimate or not based on how well or poorly it is done; you can’t just look at the researcher’s affiliations and conclude that it must be bad research. (However, conflicts of interest can be a legitimate warning sign, letting us know to view the research methodology carefully.)
  • Obviously some medical experts on abortion are going to be doctors who perform abortion, or medical professors who teach about abortion. It goes too far to imply, as GrannyGrump seems to, that experts writing about their own fields are as biased as a tobacco company study. Yes, it raises a legitimate question of conflict of interest; but so does having heart surgeons write articles about heart surgery.
  • This particular article passed through JAMA’s peer review process. And it’s not original research – it’s a review of peer-reviewed medical research on the subject. Both these facts make the JAMA article completely different from the faux-research put out by tobacco companies – and make it likely that the findings are legitimate.
  • Finally, the pro-life press is full of studies conducted and funded by professional pro-life advocates – and many of those studies are never published in legitimate peer-reviewed journals. It seems unlikely that pro-lifers would be willing to hold their own studies to the standards they’re holding this study to.

Bottom line: It’s no surprise that the pro-lifers have been attacking this study with ad hom attacks on some of the authors, rather than attacking it on the scientific merits.

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36 Responses to Fetal Pain Researchers Failed to Disclose Abortion Affiliations

  1. Pingback: Pacific Views

  2. 2
    Jivin J says:

    Hi Ampersand,
    While, it certainly is true that the authors affiliations don’t prove that the paper is inaccurate, why does a study by individuals involved in the abortion industry that could be beneficial to the abortion industry somehow carry more weight that a study by individuals in the tobacco industry that could be beneficial to the tobacco industry, if your sympathy to abortion providers over tobacco providers isn’t part of the equation?

    Aren’t you and Granny Grump both taking part in Ad homs against tobacco company studies? Or are you assuming that the tobacco study wouldn’t be peer-reviewed?

    The study was on fetal pain, not abortion. As far as I’ve seen (I could be wrong), none of these individuals were experts in fetal pain before this study was published. Your comparison and statements regarding medical expertise on abortion (someone could be a very prolific abortionist yet have absolutely no knowledge of fetal pain) and your comparison to heart experts don’t seem to work when this is factored in.

    The prolife press? Not the mainstream press? Yet there also numerous peer reviewed studies by prolifers like David Reardon that are simply dismissed by many pro-choice people merely because Reardon or whoever is prolife. I’m guessing you’d also be against that kind of dismissal, correct?

    Thank you for saying that the authors should have disclosed their affiliations.

  3. 3
    Radfem says:

    I agree that any potential conflict of interest information on researchers should have been put upfront, and I would rather have seen it included than discarded. It’s honest, and if you don’t include it, it can appear like you’re hiding it, even when you’re not, and it will attract criticism from the other side, which is fair game, if the prochoice side criticizes the antiabortion side for the same thing in its research.

    If you criticize the other side for something like conflict of interest, it’s important to exercise high standards for yourself.

    Heart surgery’s not a medical technique that is nearly as polarized in terms of belief systems, so it’s hard to compare to abortions. Although technically, at least several abortion techniques(i.e. D&C ) have other diagnostic or treatment uses and are also taught to Ob-Gyns for those reasons. For example, you may not want to do D&C’s for abortion, but might have to after miscarriages, or in cases of heavy bleeding, for diagnosis or treatment to ensure or protect the health of the woman.

    I would like to know the connections of the researchers, not to disregard or discredit the research unless there were other reasons, but just to know all the factors that went into the research.

  4. 4
    Lilith says:

    Let’s be fair, though. If the roles were reversed and the results were different, we certainly wouldn’t feel it an ad hominem to scrutinize the pro-life affiliations of the researchers, even if it had passed muster with JAMA. There’s no point holding our opponents to a standard we have no intention of maintaining ourselves.

  5. 5
    Dianne says:

    Lilith: If I were reviewing this article–or an article that said just the opposite (ie concluded that fetuses feel pain at, say, 8 weeks) I would probably scrutinize it very carefully, regardless of any conflicts disclosed by the authors. I strongly suspect that the reviewers knew that this article was likely to be controversial and therefore reviewed it particularly carefully. Peer review is no guarantee that a result is correct, of course. If the pro-life movement were criticizing the science of the article, I would consider that entirely reasonable. But saying that one of the authors used to work for NARAL therefore the whole thing must be wrong? I don’t think so. I wonder if any of the pro-lifers criticizing the article have actually read it?

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Jiven:

    Tobacco industry studies, as I understand it, were infamous for their bias and their avoidance of the usual peer-review process, either through skipping peer review altogether or through the use of faux tobacco-funded journals. If my understanding is correct, then the equivalence of a peer-reviewed article in a legitimate, prestigious medical journal to tobacco industry studies is unjustified.

    Yet there also numerous peer reviewed studies by prolifers like David Reardon that are simply dismissed by many pro-choice people merely because Reardon or whoever is prolife. I’m guessing you’d also be against that kind of dismissal, correct?

    A peer-reviewed article in a legitimate peer-reviewed journal has more credibility than studies published in another venue. Results that are replicated in multiple peer-reviewed studies by a variety of authors have more credibility, too. Based on those two principles, I think it’s fair to say that Reardon’s work is less credible than a review of peer-reviewed literature published in JAMA.

    I’d disagree if someone seriously said “this study can’t possibly be correct, because it’s by David Reardon.” That’s illogical. But if someone says “this study is published by an author who can’t get his recent work accepted by JAMA, who is funded by pro-life organizations, and whose history shows a pattern of dubious methodology and partisan bias,” then I think that would be reason for suspicion, and ideally for wanting the results replicated by a more mainstream researcher in a good peer-reviewed journal.

    In the end, what matters is if the methodology is fairly done and if the work can be replicated by other researchers. If a study published in JAMA has bad assumptions or methodology, then it’s not reliable. If Reardon did work with impeccable methodology, and if his results can be replicated by peer-reviewed researchers, then his work would deserve to be taken seriously. However, by and large I don’t think that’s always been the case with Reardon.

    (Right now, however, I don’t have time to sit around researching Reardon in detail, so if you want to argue this in the nitty-gritty I’ll have to defer you until some future date).

    The study was on fetal pain, not abortion.

    Point well taken.

  7. 7
    Mini Kahlon says:

    Dianne, funny you should ask if anyone’s read the article. The article’s actually hard to get at given current publishing standards. I wrote about this article being a great case study for the need for open access in medical journals, and included many of the points that ampersand notes. The neuroscience behind adult pain, let alone fetal pain, is a big hairy area. But the point of the JAMA paper was to look at several things – not just ‘pain’, but also the efficacy of fetal anasthetics and impact on a mothers life. These other key issues have gotten lost because of the furor.

    But I do agree with Radfem’s and Lilith’s comments about being upfront about connections. The authors should have done so. But of course that assumes that scientists consider potential bias from personal politics a ‘legitimate’ disclosure.

    My entry’s on the front page of bayosphere
    0r permalink

  8. 8
    Ted says:

    Authors are required to disclose their current affiliations and all of them did, quite clearly in the article (its right after the text and right before the references). Authors do not have to write a paragraph about what they did years ago and what exactly their medical practice involves in articles. Anyone can go to the webpage for the affiliated University and see what the person does or did in their biosketch (which nearly all academics post for anyone to go see). I fail to see how they were hiding anything. Moreover, the editor of JAMA has opened up a real can of worms by commenting on this. The criticisms do not deserve any comment whatsoever and the fact that the JAMA editor commented at all threatens to set a precident which will add a layer of politics to science that is not needed.

    Pain is my feild of research so I know a bit about what is cited in the review article. Much of the basic science that is cited is based on the pioneering work of Maria Fitzgerald at University College London. Over 20 years, she and others have extensively mapped the connections of pain sensing neurons and their projections to the brain. Moreover, they have conducted elegant behavioral and electrophysiological studies showing how and why pain perception and nociception in general are different in fetuses and neonates. Their findings have been well supported and reproducible to the point that there is little, if any, controversy in the basic sciences over the findings presented in this review article.

    Finally, Dr Rosen is indeed a pain expert. He publishes in the pain field regularly, is in an anesthesia department, works at the university with the largest pain research center in the US (UCSF) and regularly participates in pain conferences.

  9. 9
    Mini Kahlon says:

    one thing though where I disagree with ampersand – review articles are in fact much harder to pin down and confirm on methodology. They’re inherently more about opinion, and leave the door open for bias, compared to primary studies. After all, the authors review a lot of literature, and then tell us about the highlights. The rigor comes from describing in detail the search methodology. But which articles are chosen, discarded, etc. in creating the authors’ summary, by definition has room for personalization. Although again with 5 authors, this is likely not too much of an issue.

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    If the roles were reversed and the results were different, we certainly wouldn’t feel it an ad hominem to scrutinize the pro-life affiliations of the researchers, even if it had passed muster with JAMA. There’s no point holding our opponents to a standard we have no intention of maintaining ourselves.

    Lilith, you’ve mischaracterized what I wrote.

    I never said it was ad hominem to scrutinize the affiliations of the researchers – of course that’s not ad hominem.

    On the other hand, it’s ad hominem to say the research is no good based solely on the affiliations of the researchers – which is what GrannyGrump did. And yes, I’d have the same opinion if someone dismissed a study in a legitimate peer-reviewed journal solely because of pro-life affiliations.

    Please try not to be so quick to assume I’m a hypocrite next time, okay?

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Thank you, Ted. Maybe I conceded too much by saying they should have disclosed more; I was pretty much taking the JAMA editor’s word on that one.

  12. 12
    Dianne says:

    “Yet there also numerous peer reviewed studies by prolifers like David Reardon that are simply dismissed by many pro-choice people merely because Reardon or whoever is prolife. I’m guessing you’d also be against that kind of dismissal, correct?”

    Yes. I am against dismissing Reardon’s work on the basis of his political views. I would rather his work be evaluated based on its merits and criticized based on the data contained in them alone. For example, in this article he concludes that women who have had abortions are at higher risk for depression even though the 95% confidence interval comparing women who had abortions versus those who delivered included 1.0, indicating no effect.

  13. 13
    Ted says:

    No problem Amp….

    Just one more thing. There are no results to scrutinize. This is a review article, there are no original findings. It is a synthesis of the current state of the research with respect to fetal pain. The authors do conclude (in my opinion rightly so) that analgesia for 1 and 2 trimester abortions is unneccessary and potentially hazardous. They seem hesitant to much such a claim about 3rd trimester abortions and I would agree with them there too. More work is needed on that aspect but 3rd trimester abortions are almost always for medical neccessity reasons anyway (as discussed in other threads extensively).

  14. 14
    Lilith says:

    If I wanted to call you a hypocrite, I would just say “Amp, you’re a hypocrite.” Since that’s not what I said, you can assume that it’s not what I meant.

  15. 15
    Dianne says:

    Mini K: I agree that JAMA and other major medical journals should be open access on the web. However, anyone can get the article by purchasing one time access to JAMA or by going to the nearest library, which will either have the journal or can get it from interlibrary loan. It’s not that difficult and anyone interested enough to cricitize the article publically should be interested enough to actually read the thing, even if they have to do a little work or pay a small amount to do so.

  16. 16
    picomoo says:

    Mini,
    But the reviewers at JAMA have access to all the data that went into this article and all the other published data in the field. Here they can actually check that the authors are not showing one experiment that supports their claim and hiding the 10 that disprove it.

  17. 17
    Ted says:

    Amp,

    Do you have the article? Email me if you want it (I owe you a return from long ago, if you remember). The article is incredibly non-controversial, succinct and well written. Based on all the furor, its bound to disappoint, their conclusions are carefully worded, based on solid evidence and not particularly far-reaching.

  18. 18
    Ted says:

    Mini,

    Being a neuroscentist in the pain area, I am interested to know exactly what you mean by: “The neuroscience behind adult pain, let alone fetal pain, is a big hairy area”. It is always interesting to know what the general public thinks those of us in medical research are actually up to. I am primarily interested because your conceptions about what myself and my colleagues do tells me alot about what kind of a job we are doing on a personal and professional society wide basis of getting the word out about what we are doing and why.

  19. 19
    Mini Kahlon says:

    Dianne you’re right that one can go and read the article – as I did. And I’m certainly not trying to give those that are critiquing the paper without reading it – an out. But infrastructure aids or deters the possibility of discourse. My point is simply that lack of access to this kind of article that has direct impact on our lives is a problem, and creates the context for an already polarized and superficial conversation.

    Indeed, picomoo, the reviewers at JAMA have access to ‘all the data’ – actually, its pretty much the data in the paper – which is not data, just the method for the search. When it comes down to it, for a review, there is no abstract independent way to verify reviewers framing and selection of points. Peer reviewers don’t reread ever paper referenced in the review, but yes, they should be experts in the arena and confirm that major points have been covered. Should.

    Reviews are more impacted by the credibility, fame, authority, etc. of their authors than primary research, because when it comes down to it, we’re trusting reviewers to ‘summarize’. If the review just listed, say, the # of articles found from the search under any category, then its pretty verifiable and objective. But that wasn’t the case here, the authors certainly were moving beyond a tabulation of activity in the field as is the case in most reviews, especially those that are trying to make a case about cognition.

    (Aside: This discusson on Alas has been really interesting, and I’m trying to figure out how to trackback to the bayosphere article which also brings up why I disagree with Ted on his idealistic notion of science … perhaps this?
    http://bayosphere.com/node/1094/trackback )

  20. 20
    Mini Kahlon says:

    oh oops, Ted, I’m not a medical scientist, but a ph.d. neuroscience, UCSF. So I’m not the best test subject for general public … :) As a systems/cognitive neuroscientist (not ‘practicing’ now, though) I understand just how many assumptions and theoretical constructs are necessary for discussion around the neural basis of cognition, and perception.

    I’m with you on the ‘standard neuroscience’ for nociception not equal to pain.

  21. 21
    Ted says:

    Mini,

    I’m also a Ph.D. neuroscience (University of Texas), we don’t run across one another so often in blogs :-), hence, sorry for the assumption. But, I’d still like to know, why is pain neuroscience “hairy?”

    I read your linked post. I don’t understand the the argument in terms of an idealistic view of science. I personally don’t see that the JAMA authors reached any conclusions and they, in fact called for more work in certain areas (which you did in your post as well). BTW you have some references to PNS neurons connecting to the thalamus. Although they do that indirectly, all nociceptors synapse first in the dorsal horn and then the second order neurons cross and go to the thalamus (different from low threshold mechano-sensitive neurons which go on up to the gracile or cuneate nuclei, but still not directly to the thalamus). Quite a bit of work has been done on when nociceptors develop their formal synapses in the dorsal horn and this might actually come along later than thalamo-cortical connections (making that whole point mute).

  22. 22
    Mini Kahlon says:

    oh yes, I didn’t mean PNS neurons as we might understand them connect directly to thalamus. That was just a shortcut description to bring readers up to the thalamus so we could talk about thalamic neurons synapsing onto the cortex.

    But fascinating to hear about the later synapses between periphery to dorsal horn neurons – although I don’t understand how one can get reflexive reactions in that case.

    I guess when I say idealistic I’m responding to your thoughts on bias, disclosure, etc. Seems like we differ on whether the authors (at least the exlawyer for naral) should have come clean up front. I think that scientists who think about the issue of abortion/choice as part of the current national debate (which btw, might extend to those authors that don’t have explicit connections to one movement or the other) absolutely will come into any study with inherent, often unconscious bias. Regardless of the side they’re on.

    Hairy has nothing to do with pain per se, its just to do with the fact that as neuroscientists we’re trying to reach conclusions about lots of things that are inherently immeasurable when it comes to consciousness, cognition, awareness, blah blah. thats all.

    yes, its wierd in a good funny way to have a little private conversation between 2 neuro geeks when we didn’t go out searching for it!

  23. 23
    RowanCrisp says:

    From what I remember (which is admittedly not a high mark of certainty these days) of the article in the LA Times that covered this, the people who presented this article in JAMA were identified as having performed abortions, among others.

  24. 24
    ginmar says:

    So….they performed abortions? Well,that means they’re evil then. Because we all know that performing abortions is a profit-making racket, right?

    What?

    The anti-abortion movement tells me so. Shouldn’t I trust them?

  25. 25
    Josh Jasper says:

    Amanda at Pandagon tells us that anti-choiceers in Texas are trying to execute abortion doctors legaly

    No mention of executions for the person who has the abortion. If this is ever brought before a court of law and argued as a ‘murder’, it would have to get thrown out because if it’s murder, there’s a second killer, the mother. You can’t execute just the doctor.

    I wonder how many anti-choice parents are interested in seeing their daughters die alongside the doctors who perform the abortions.

    I suspect it’s a non-zero number.

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    I think Rowan’s point was that even before their so-called “conflict of interest” was pointed out, they weren’t keeping the fact that one of them performs abortions a secret.

  27. 27
    Ted says:

    Mini,

    I guess I don’t see that the authors took any position on abortion one way or the other, but were giving their opinion, based on current evidence, on fetal pain and whether analgesia for fetus’s during abortion was a good idea. I think JAMA is a good forum for this type of article and that experts should weigh in on the issue. The former attorney worked for NARAL but is not stating an opinion on access to abortion here, it is a purely medical opinion. We all have biases, obviously, but I’ll take medical advice from qualified professionals over anyone else any day (especially when they are OB/GYN and pain experts, I don’t think too many of these people are walking the halls of our institutes of higher learning).

    I would also have to disagree on your comment of things that are immeasurable. Some of the items in your list might currently be hard to measure, but that will be conquered eventually with technological improvements and a little cleverness. Unless one is going to envoke the dualistic approach to mind/body, all aspects of consciousness/alertness/etc., will eventually be measurable because they are derived from biological processes.

    Finally, you mentioned on several occassions that all scholarly journal articles should be open access. I agree completely. NIH also agrees and within the next year they will start phasing in their open access policy for all federally funded research. There are also a growing number of open access journals. I recently published some work in one and found it to be a nice experience and my research has been met by a wider international audience via this avenue. Needless to say I’m planning on publishing more in this format. Problem is that impact factors are low now, and for a youngster like myself, trying to find a full tenure-track position, I have to weigh the impact factor issues against my own personal feelings of how I would like my work to be published. NIH is making this easier for me and I have deposited several of my non-open access articles in their database (which can be accessed through PUBMED) so that they can reach a wider audience (both internationally and through interested members of the US public). In other words, times are changing in the publishing world, por fin!

  28. 28
    Robert says:

    Unless one is going to envoke the dualistic approach to mind/body, all aspects of consciousness/alertness/etc., will eventually be measurable because they are derived from biological processes.

    This is just a wee bit arrogant, don’t you think?

    My love for my baby daughter is derived from biological processes; you’re not going to come up with an objective external measure for it.

    Reductionist science is incredibly powerful, but it has limits. Everything mortal does.

  29. 29
    NancyP says:

    Truth is, the academic qualifications of the most vocal “pro-life” researchers such as Reardon and Brind are pretty thin – as in, absence of original research on the topic, publication of mere letters of opinion in better-known peer reviewed journals, and publication of metaanalyses in non-peer-reviewed journals and obscure “peer-reviewed” journals.

  30. 30
    NancyP says:

    Oh yeah, there is peer review and then there is “peer review”. Some journals will publish any article falling within the purview of the journal theme, regardless of the result of the “peer review”. Peer review for Science or Nature is different than peer review for International Journal of Oncology (to name an obscure one with relatively low standing).

  31. 31
    Dianne says:

    “…impact factors are low now,”

    I suspect that this will change over time. If a journal is open access, one can download it directly from pubmed and read it immediately instead of having to go to the library and get the print copy or (even worse) order it from the journal, which means that people are more likely to read open access articles and therefore more likely to cite them, which will gradually improve the impact factors of open access journals. That doesn’t solve your immediate dilemma, of course, but it does seem likely that the natural evolution of scientific literature, so to speak, is likely to be towards, rather than away from, open access.

  32. 32
    Ted says:

    Robert,

    I suppose it depends on how you look at it. From my perspective I think it is not an arrogant viewpoint because it is a neccessary extension of the belief that all emotions, mental states, etc., have a neural correlate that can be empirically measured. If one believes that mind and body are seperate and the mind exists in a rhealm outside of standard biology (I’m not much at thinking about this belief because I find it intrinsically hard to grasp) I suppose it is. I also suppose it could be arrogant, on a personal level, if I thought it was important to have an emperical measure of your love for your daughter. I certainly don’t think that is important, you know you do and that is quite enough for the 2 of you I’m sure. On the other hand, being able to measure such things in general might be extremely important for gaining insight into certain diseases, such as autism or schizophrenia, wherein it could offer some measure of disease severity as well as an empirical measure of improvement with treatment.

    Dianne, I hope you’re right (and suspect you will be). The new NIH guidelines are going to be a real boon for open access. If only we could get a preprint archive going in the biological sciences like they have in physics/math. Then we’d really be cooking with gas!

  33. 33
    RowanCrisp says:

    Amp,

    Yes, that’s exactly my point, and I apologize for not making it clearer.

    I find it really disturbing that someone is claiming that they “hid” their personal and professional stances somehow, since, according to the information I first saw about this issue, that would be a blatant lie.

    Remind me not to post at five AM during contractions in the future. ;)

  34. 34
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    Nice little inflammatory editorial saying JAMA needs to change it’s name to Journal of the American Murderer’s Association and be brought up on charges due to this.

    The editorial can be read here and shows that the anti-choice crowd is definitely jumping all over this one to the extreme degree. Ted you damn near seem like a prophet, all things considered:

    JAMA Changes Name After Fetal Pain Story
    by Nathan Tabor
    Aug 25, 2005

    JAMA normally stands for The Journal of the American Medical Association. It is has “officially” changed its name to the Journal of the American Murderers Association.

    Why? Because they printed corrupted research saying a fetus doesn’t feel pain until seven months. This is irresponsible and unethical. Congress should hold hearings to censor or fine JAMA.

    JAMA should be ashamed of themselves. They have entered into a political debate when, according to their website, their purpose is “to promote the science and art of medicine and the betterment of public health.”

    What does publishing falsified and corrupt data have to do with that mission statement? Even worse, they are defending the research.

    Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life
    Committee in Washington, said, “If Congress wants an objective evaluation of whether calves and lambs are being slaughtered humanely, they will not rely too much on the report from the operators of slaughterhouses.”

    Know why? Because the two “researchers” are involved in the abortion
    industry. The lead author, Susan J. Lee, is a medical student who once
    worked for NARAL Pro-Choice America. The other is Eleanor Drey, a medical director of the abortion clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. JAMA did not include information about the authors’ ties to the abortion industry in its publication. That is like entrusting Uncle Frank, the drunk, to watch the liquor cabinet.

    Let JAMA know you don’t agree with their bias, corrupted research.

  35. 35
    Dianne says:

    Ted:” If only we could get a preprint archive going in the biological sciences like they have in physics/math.”

    Sigh. My partner works in physics, I work in medicine. His field is so much better at using computers in a number of ways. Besides the preprint archive, the major journals in his subfield also all allow online submission and electronic signatures, which is much more efficient than the muddled methods used in medical journals. I recently got an article accepted at a journal that shall remain nameless in the hopes that they’ll be embarrassed by their policy someday. Anyway, the disclosure of conflict and copyright transfer forms had to be downloaded from email, signed, then scanned back into the computer and sent back by email. Given that there were eight authors on the paper this ended up taking a substantial amount of time. (Ok, I’ll stop whinging now–this isn’t the how to reform medical publications thread.)

  36. 36
    Kyra says:

    The argument that “if pro-choicers submit research that favors a pro-choice position, it must be because they’re lying” is confusing action with desire. Ideas should be judged on their merits, not their sources, in this case the quality of the research done. The possibility of a certain conclusion being favorable to the researchers does not eliminate that conclusion as a plausable outcome of the research, which is the conclusion these pro-lifers seem to be drawing: “it is what the researchers want, so it can’t possibly be true on its own.” But properly done research delivers its truth uncaring of how that truth is recieved; it does not care if the people looking for the answer find that answer good or bad, and it does not change its outcome to suit them or to avoid suiting them. It is only *improperly* done research that dances to the researcher’s tune and delivers outcomes skewed to their favor. It is irrelevent who did the research, so long as the research itself is of acceptable quality. And just because the outcome is what they might have skewed it to IF they had skewed it, does not prove that they did.