Saturday, 28 January 2012

Anti-Choice: Suckers for Scientists for Hire

(Whoa. This got long. Sorry.)

As promised, we take up the matter of the 'ignored' information in the CTV investigation into a fake clinic, as alleged in the eight-page press release issued by Maurice Vellacott.

By the way, Kady O'Malley had this to say about it.
I believe Maurice Vellacott may have just sent out the longest press release in the history of Canadian parliamentary democracy.

Among many, here's the complaint about bias. (I don't like Scribd. One can't copy and paste. Grrr.)
'The report ignored the scientific literature referenced in the centres' brochures which substantiates the centres' claims that abortion is associated with increased physical and psychological health risks.'

So, one of the eight pages is devoted to providing that missing information. There are eleven references. I looked them all up. Three seem legit, if not quite saying what Vellacott implies.

For example, the one by Ostbye. T., et al. is a simple comparison on abortion outcomes by location, i.e. looking into whether women have fewer complications from abortions performed in hospitals as opposed to clinics. It has nothing to do with abortion risks as such*.

Two, Moreau, C., et al. and Shah and Zao, focus on the relationship between previous abortion and risks of subsequent pre-term or low-weight delivery.

Again, both seem legit and do find a correlation. However, the first is based on French data from 1997, specifically because French women have a higher rate of abortion than many. The second is based on only 37 cases. Both caution that more study is necessary on the topic especially into what manner of abortion and what sorts of complications are also associated with low-weight or pre-term delivery. Not terribly damning, in other words, but at least legit.

Which is way more than can be said for the other eight.

Joel Brind is 'a leading advocate of the abortion-breast cancer hypothesis', which has been debunked countless times. 'Nuff said. Moving on. . .

A PDF of the Fergusson, D.M., et al. paper is available at the Toronto-based de Veber Institute. 'What's that? you ask?
The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research conducts and disseminates research on topics connected to human life in its biological, social and ethical dimensions. These topics are selected for study depending on emerging medical, technological and social developments. In undertaking this work the Institute believes that a sense of the inherent value and dignity of human life and of the human person as an end and not a means is a foundational perspective to bring to bear on its work.

A glance at its current projects (abortion and breast cancer, abortion and mental health, abortion and infertility) confirms: yes, another bogus anti-choice science for hire gang.

(BTW, like other such echo-chambers for lies, the site also cites the Ostbye study, but lies about its purpose and conclusions: 'A study conducted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario shows that after induced abortion there is a 4 times increase in medical admissions and a 5 times increase in surgical admissions to the hospital.')

The Ring-Cassidy and Gentles paper is also associated with the de Veber Institute, its authors being principals there. Ring-Cassidy is a psychologist with a 'continued interest in Catholic Psychology and has taken American Psychological Association Continuing Credits in this area', while 'Ian Gentles is a Professor of History at York University's Glendon College and at Tyndale University College, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.' Yup, fully qualified to research 'women's health after abortion'.

Now we come to Angela Lanfranchi whose abortion=breast cancer paper was published in The Linacre Quarterly. Never heard of this prestigious medical journal? Me neither.
Linacre Quarterly, established in 1932, is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Catholic Medical Association. The journal primarily focuses on the relationship between medicine and spirituality and in particular on medical ethics.

An example of how the journal approaches both religious and medical issues is provided by an article in the August 2006 issue that discusses the medical aspects of crucifixion, given that the Crucifixion of Jesus is a central element of the Roman Catholic faith.

Ho-kay then.

But we're not done with Angela yet.

Her work can also be found at Breast Cancer Prevention Foundation, of which with Joel Brind (see above) she's a co-founder and at the Association for Interdisciplinary Research inValues and Social Change, which at least has the grace to admit that it is a 'pro-life' organization.
The Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change is a professional organization for pro-life researchers and educators which offers a forum to exchange ideas of scientific and social science disciplines. The Association is a network of pro-life professionals who encourage research and academic publication and the development of textbooks and curricula for high schools and colleges. Since its 1986 inception, the Association has published a quarterly news bulletin which has done extensive academic work, especially on Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS), a pattern of psychological problems suffered by some women and men after abortion. Professional research and writing on PAS is vitally important because it is an emerging new field.

(PAS is complete bullshit, BTW, again debunked countless times.)

Vellacott likes Angela. He brought her to Parliament Hill in 2007 to lecture on the inevitable cancer/abortion link.

We've saved the best for last. Four of the eleven references are to our old pal and professional liar-for-hire Priscilla Coleman, who is Perfesser of Home Ec and Abortion Trauma for Sluts.

Priscilla is aaaall over the newly announced World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education, or 'wecare' for short. (Awww.)

She is ubiquitous in the articles and publications sections and is the ONLY person in the presentations section.

She is obviously making hay with her recent notoriety occasioned by the publication of a piece of typical bullshit in the 'prestigious' British Journal of Psychiatry, which is celebrating its bicentennial with a bit of hubbub about that very paper.

The editor says:
We have seldom been a campaigning journal, because campaigning, even in pursuit of a noble cause, indicates partiality, and we also like to think that we are independent of the many lobbying groups that surround our subject, even though we sometimes venture into territory occupied by factional fighting, as illustrated for example in the correspondence in this issue (Howard et al, p. 74, etc.) over a paper we published in September.

Annoyingly, that from the editor is the only bit not behind the sub wall. I've put out a twitter call for someone with a sub (and repeat it here) to clue us on on what transpires in eight letters, an editors' response, and and an author's reply.

There have been many calls for BJP to retract the paper, as the Lancet had to over the fraudulent work of Andrew Wakefield on the vaccine-autism non-link.

Somehow I doubt BJP will have the balls of the The Lancet.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, bravo to CTV for 'ignoring' a bunch of science-for-hire bullshit. These people need to be exposed every time they weasel their way into serious, grown-up discussions.

Again, we say: THIS is precisely why we won't debate them. Because they lie.

UPDATE: Ain't the twittersphere grand? Thanks to goddammitkitty for PDFs of BJP letters, editor's reply, and author's response. New blogpost coming.

UPDATE UPDATED: British Journal of Psychiatry ^NOT 'Prestigious'.

*Correction: From Dr. Dawg, we learn that the Ostbye study is not completely irrelevant. There was a control group of women who did not have abortions. But the conclusion is the same. The complication rate for abortion is low.

From Dr. Dawg's link we also learn that they've been pumping the same old crap for ages.


sassy said...

THIS is precisely why we won't debate them. Because they lie.


Never argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

it's like

"Mud wrestling with pigs - Don't do it, because you never win, and eventually you realize the pig enjoys it."

k'in said...

I wonder about the male "scientists" that sign up for these "nuanced" studies. The ancient Van Halen " you'll get some leg tonight for sure..." lyrics come to mind. Most of these dudes have the dweeb factor that make Rick Santorum look almost studly (not). I suspect that most of them are frustrated control freaks that are unable to interact in a healthy manner with women in 3D life. So, their revenge is to control them through their dubious "research".

Beijing York said...

Excellent post, fern!

One thing for sure, don't trust this current government to do something dirty and unexpected. We have seen and torpedoed most trial balloons so far but we cannot stop watching them like hawks.

Alison said...

Here's an old Creekside post from way back in May 2006 about Vellacott, Lanfranchi, Brind, and their lobbying friends.
Maurice Vellacott - unplugged

fern hill said...

Wow, Alison, that is some twisted stuff. We women and our poor fragile breasts get sucked into some weird crap.

You're in BC, arent' you? I tried to find an email for the reporter on this story, Jon Woodward. I think it would be an excellent follow-up on the fake clinic story for him to chase down some of this 'missing' information that Vellacott so kindly provided and we *ahem* have so diligently expanded on.

Just to, you know, continue the theme of 'informed consent'. What information are women who go to fake clinics consenting to be told?

Alison said...

On facebook :

Email : jwoodward[a]


fern hill said...

I took myself off Facebook, but an email chock full of linkies has just been sent. We'll see.

Thanks for the address.

choice joyce said...

And correlation does not equal causation, remember, especially when looking at all the variables that may be associated with abortion. Women from marginalized communities, low-income women, women with chaotic lives, women with health problems etc., tend to have more unintended pregnancies and/or more abortions than other women, which would account for most if not all of the correlations between abortion and negative effects. I.e., it's not abortion itself that is the cause of problems, it's those other factors.

fern hill said...

Right. And this recent study points out that it is the unwanted pregnancy, NOT abortion, that is the stressor.

From the Department of D'uh, natch.

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