Prominent Scientists Urge Supreme Court: Reject Pseudoscientific Testimony for Texas Abortion Case

Jan 13, 2016

Steven Pinker, Eugenie Scott, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and more than 40 other eminent scientists and public intellectuals are backing the Center for Inquiry in a brief to the Supreme Court criticizing the state of Texas’s onerous restrictions on abortion providers. CFI’s brief argues that the alleged expert, scientific testimony used to justify the restrictions is flawed pseudoscience and the Court cannot constitutionally rely on it.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, plaintiffs argue that restrictions on abortion providers passed in Texas in 2013 impose an undue burden on women’s constitutionally protected right to end a pregnancy. Since only a few clinics are able to meet the law’s strictures it will result in mass clinic closures and sharply restricted access to abortion services in the state.

Texas’s claim that the regulations protect women’s health is contrary to the science and facts. As the CFI brief explains, Vincent Rue, a long-discredited anti-abortion partisan with no relevant medical credentials, coordinated the testimony in support of the state’s claim. Yet, in every case in which Rue has coordinated testimony to defend regulations requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges—such as those at the heart of this case—the evidence presented has been discounted by the trial court.

Federal trial courts have found that the unqualified Rue substantially ghostwrote the testimony of alleged expert witnesses in a number of cases. His efforts are agenda-driven pseudoscience that seek to manufacture controversy, the CFI brief says.


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3 comments on “Prominent Scientists Urge Supreme Court: Reject Pseudoscientific Testimony for Texas Abortion Case

  • @OP – Federal trial courts have found that the unqualified Rue substantially ghostwrote the testimony of alleged expert witnesses in a number of cases. His efforts are agenda-driven pseudoscience that seek to manufacture controversy, the CFI brief says.

    Ah! The know-it-all Dunning-Kruger confidence of “faith”, endorsed by pseudo-experts, and the confirmation biases of scientifically illterate politician-legislators!



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  • Meanwhile, back in the UK:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35301238
    A scientist has been making her case to be the first in the UK to be allowed to genetically modify human embryos.

    Dr Kathy Niakan said the experiments would provide a deeper understanding of the earliest moments of human life and could reduce miscarriages.

    The regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), will consider her application on Thursday.

    If Dr Niakan is given approval then the first such embryos could be created by the summer.

    Every person has gone through a remarkable transformation from a single fertilised egg into a fully fledged human being made of trillions of precisely organised cells.

    Exactly how this takes place is a mystery.

    Dr Niakan, who has spent a decade researching human development, is trying to understand the first seven days.

    During this time we go from a fertilised egg to a structure called a blastocyst, containing 200-300 cells.

    But even at this early blastocyst stage, some cells have been organised to perform specific roles – some go on to form the placenta, others the yolk sac and others ultimately us.

    During this period, parts of our DNA are highly active.

    It is likely these genes are guiding our early development but it is unclear exactly what they are doing or what goes wrong in miscarriage.

    Dr Niakan, from the Francis Crick Institute, said: “We would really like to understand the genes needed for a human embryo to develop successfully into a healthy baby.

    “The reason why it is so important is because miscarriages and infertility are extremely common, but they’re not very well understood.”

    .Of 100 fertilised eggs, fewer than 50 reach the blastocyst stage, 25 implant into the womb and only 13 develop beyond three months.

    She says that understanding what is supposed to happen and what can go wrong could improve IVF.

    “We believe that this research could really lead to improvements in infertility treatment and ultimately provide us with a deeper understanding of the earliest stages of human life.”

    However, she says the only way to do this is to edit human embryos.

    Many of the genes which become active in the week after fertilisation are unique to humans, so they cannot be studied in animal experiments.

    “The only way we can understand human biology at this early stage is by further studying human embryos directly,” Dr Niakan said.

    Her intention is to use one of the most exciting recent scientific breakthroughs – Crispr gene editing – to turn off genes at the single-cell stage and see what happens.

    The knowledge gained from such studies could help pick which embryos had the best chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy in IVF.

    Such experiments are legal in the UK as long as the modified embryos are not implanted into people.

    But scientists need a licence from the HFEA before they can perform such studies.



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