Telling the Truth About Abortion Politics

Sens. Yee and Barto asked. We answered. It’s Our Turn to share the truth behind abortion politics. We have submitted the following op-ed to the Arizona Republic, but they have not (yet?) published it.

Thank You PP croppedAs a medical professional, I am dismayed at the recent “Our Turn” published in the Arizona Republic titled, “Make doctors tell the truth on abortion drug.” I would like to do just that — tell the truth and correct the record, because the opinion by legislators Barto and Yee was laden with revisionist history, misstatements of legal fact, and most important, non-medical junk science.

Doctors practice up-to-date, evidence-based medicine. I appreciate lawmakers repealing their intrusive foray into the practice of medicine, SB 1324. This law attempted to mandate how doctors dispense abortion medication according to an outdated, 16-year-old protocol contained in the original drug label. SB 1324 was an attempt to re-start a legal case that Arizona was losing. Despite the FDA’s update of the drug label to reflect current medical practice, policymakers and the governor stubbornly insisted on enacting SB 1324. Why, I cannot imagine. The repeal of this legislation was certainly welcome.

Real doctors reject junk science. More disturbing than the FDA label issue is Sens. Yee and Barto’s assertion that “at least 170 healthy babies have been born when medication abortions were reversed.” There is no scientific support for this assertion, just as there is no peer-reviewed medical evidence for the whole notion of “abortion reversal.” A handful of doctors with a moral agenda have attempted to use progesterone to “stop” a medication abortion. However, there is nothing in the literature to justify this practice, save for one report of six informal clinical anecdotes. No significant sample size, no control group, no oversight, no peer review. Regardless, last year these same legislators passed SB 1318, violating physicians’ and patients’ constitutional rights by forcing physicians to inform their patients that it is possible to reverse a medication abortion, which is untrue. Continue reading

ACT TODAY! SB 1318 Is on the HOUSE FLOOR TODAY!

The Trouble with SB 1318

BREAKING: FACT-CHECK on 1318

fact check thumbnailSB 1318 passed the Arizona House Rules committee this afternoon and is headed to the House floor later this week — NOW IS THE TIME to STOP 1318. SB 1318 is too extreme and relies on illegitimate science to prop up an extreme and messy bill. #STOP1318 and contact your 2 Representatives and ask they vote NO when it gets to the floor.

  1. No taxpayer money is used in Arizona to fund abortion. NONE. No taxpayer funds are used at the federal level either since laws exist explicitly averting public funds for paying for abortion. Proponents claim to protect the taxpayer from erroneously paying for an abortion — instead Arizona taxpayers will be on the hook not only for court cases and lawyer fees, but for numerous medical malpractice suits for compelling doctors to misinform patients. SB 1318 is a bad bill.
  1. SB 1318 does NOT redact doctors’ private information from public documents when doctors lawfully comply with ADHS regulations. Under public records laws, doctors’ private information is made public. Doctors should NOT be targeted simply because of the care they provide and SB 1318 targets doctors, plain and simple.
  1. Complete with an amendment that compels doctors to “inform” patients that their medical abortion may be reversed if they change their mind, but SB 1318 relies on illegitimate science. Although medically unsubstantiated, Arizona providers will now be forced by the state to potentially commit medical malpractice by having to misinform patients.
  1. While SB 1318 does have an exception for survivors of rape and incest, the bill does not outline how doctors or insurance adjusters go about determining if an individual was in fact a victim of such a crime. The vagueness of the bill forces doctors and insurance companies to be de facto police detectives to determine if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. This is too extreme — even in Arizona.

SB 1318 targets doctors for the care they provide, relies on illegitimate science, and is too extreme. #STOP1318 and contact your 2 Representatives and ask they vote NO when it gets to the floor.

Mythbusting: Does Abortion Cause Breast Cancer?

breast-examNew England Journal of Medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association. Annals of Internal MedicineJournal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong. But how can most laypeople differentiate between these medical journals? The dry, pithy titles seem to tell you exactly what’s underneath their covers. So if I told you that, according to a study in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, abortion increases risk for breast cancer, would you believe me? Well, why not? The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which publishes the journal, sounds legit.


Health decisions must be guided by reliable evidence, and when agenda-driven policies misinform, patients cannot make informed decisions.


Except that AAPS is infamous for its agenda-driven views, and its journal is used to deny climate change and the dangers of secondhand smoking, promote the debunked idea that vaccines cause autism, advocate for closed borders in overtly racist anti-immigration pieces, reject the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS, and perpetuate a far-right political worldview. The organization opposes any government involvement in health care, including the FDA, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and regulation of the medical profession.

Medical journals, like all scientific journals, are where researchers share and critique each other’s work. Before anything is published it undergoes “peer review,” in which experts evaluate studies for quality — good study design, reasonable interpretation of results, etc. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, however, has been criticized for placing ideology over the presentation of meticulously gathered scientific evidence, and is not indexed in academic databases like MEDLINE. In 2007, AAPS joined conservative organizations in filing a lawsuit against the FDA, arguing against emergency contraception’s over-the-counter status. So, when the journal publishes articles purporting a link between abortion and breast cancer, we should all be raising our eyebrows in collective skepticism.

You might have heard abortion opponents’ claims that abortion can raise one’s risk for breast cancer later in life. So let’s get something out of the way right now: The very best scientific evidence does not support a link between abortion and breast cancer. Prominent medical organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization, have all examined the entirety of the research and found that the largest and most methodologically sound studies fail to reveal a link between abortion and breast cancer. Yet still opponents of abortion include this factoid in misinformation campaigns to instill fear into people making difficult, private decisions, often during periods of vulnerability. Continue reading