POLITICIZED: Studies find abortion pill mifepristone dangerous, but medical journal retracts data ahead of Supreme Court hearing

Weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to conduct a hearing on the safety of the abortion pill mifepristone, three medical research reports were retracted by the global academic publisher Sage. The said studies presented an alarming set of data concluding that the said abortifacient “is very dangerous to girls and women.” According to reports, Sage cited a conflict of interest; however, the funder of the research Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) is fighting back.

“This case has been painted as a pro-life vs. pro-abortion case, but in its essence, it is about the [Food and Drug Administration] FDA performing its job to protect the American public from dangerous drugs,” Dr. Ingrid Skop, a 25-year veteran obstetrician-gynecologist who serves as vice president and director of medical affairs for the pro-life CLI, told Decision Magazine. “When they approved the chemical abortion regimen, they did not follow their own rules. The FDA is required to study the pediatric population, which they never did.” She added that the federal agency approved mifepristone under a category called accelerated approval regulations, which is for drugs that treat life-threatening illnesses. Over time, it removed the safeguards and pointed to studies “that don’t even replicate the conditions that they now allow the abortion pill to be used under.”

Then two years ago, a CLI study led by Dr. James Studnicki looked into Medicaid claims. The November 2021 study found that the rate of emergency room visits after chemical abortions increased by 500 percent between 2002 and 2015. Another study, published on May 20, 2022, examined the likelihood of recurring emergency room visits for women who did not tell clinicians they had a chemical abortion. Now, it caught the attention of a complainant whose letter, which remains unpublished to date, prompted Sage, to issue an Expression of Concern (EOC) for the article.

The said EOC did not refer to any study finding but claimed “potential issues regarding the representation of data in the article and author conflicts of interest.” Back in November, the publisher told CLU that it was retracting the ER study and two additional studies. Said studies provided a warning against the abortion drug, which blocks oxygen and nutrients from getting to a developing fetus. As per the retraction notice, an independent assessment was undertaken in response to a single reader’s complaint that the studies contained misleading data and that the authors were linked with a pro-life organization, CLI. To them, this is a conflict of interest.

This did not sit well with the authors who claimed that the move was politically motivated so that they could discredit the data that was used in U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s April 2023 ruling to freeze approval of mifepristone. The SCOTUS will hear arguments on March 26 on the constitutionality of banning the abortion pills. Dr. James Studnicki, author of all three papers, said that the retractions were “completely unjustified” and intended to undermine scientific research that challenged the pro-abortion bias ingrained in academia. He told the Daily Wire that they were targeted “because their work was having such an influence on the abortion debate that was taking place in the states and the courts at the highest levels.”

Sage denies political bias on retraction

Sage pushed back against charges of political bias, standing firm that the faults identified in the publications were based on independent evaluation by “subject experts” and that the articles had methodological issues.

On November 14, the day after the publisher informed the researchers that they would retract the three papers, Studnicki was removed from the editorial board of the Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology journal. “In light of the decision to retract three research articles in which you are an author, I believe your term as an editorial board member has come to an end. As the Editor, I appreciate your contributions to the journal,” Dr. Gregory Garrison said to Studnicki in an email obtained by the Post Millennial.

Two days later, the study authors wrote to Sage to ask for more time to respond to the notice because they believed that the move was “procedurally improper” as they implied Sage was undermining their research ahead of the SCOTUS consideration of mifepristone. “Your decision also represents an unfortunate trend of utilizing scientific papers as a weapon against controversial conclusions, regardless of their objectivity. This further weakens the public’s trust in scientific groups and undermines your objective to ‘advance knowledge,'” the authors wrote. On Nov. 21, Sage replied giving them until Nov. 29 to respond.

“Sage rejects as baseless your allegation that the timing of the Retraction Notice was in any way related to a Supreme Court case,” Sage stated “The retraction of the three publications is exclusively based on the findings of the investigation, which Sage was responsible for as a COPE [Committee on Publication Ethics] member and as the journal’s publisher. Sage’s principal purpose and commitment, as it has been for over 50 years, is to ensure the highest level of academic publishing integrity. Any insinuation that politics plays a role in this mission is both unfounded and offensive.” (Related: Supreme Court ruling on use of abortion pill could impact November elections.)

Despite the retractions, Studnicki stated that he and his colleagues will continue to create high-quality research, calling it a badge of pride to be targeted by pro-abortion supporters. “This is the most powerful tribute to the strength of our science that anyone could hope for. We are doing all of the proper things. We aim to continue doing the right things, but it will be more difficult to publish things since they are attempting to ruin our reputation,” he stated.

Check out Abortions.news to read more stories on the chemical violence committed against women.

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