Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole

CFI has filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the Texas abortion restrictions case.

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.

“This case will affect the medical well-being of millions of women, and it is unthinkable that the Supreme Court of the United States might make such a monumental decision based on such flawed testimony, that offers only misrepresentation and misdirection,” said Nicholas Little, legal director of the Center for Inquiry. “While the Center for Inquiry as an organization wholeheartedly supports women’s abortion rights, for this case we come to the Court purely as advocates of science and reason. Justice Kennedy, in the last abortion case to reach the Court, made clear that the Supreme Court has a duty to independently examine the facts of cases where constitutional rights are at issue. The Court has wisely rejected fabricated, pseudoscientific evidence in previous cases, and we strongly urge the justices to do the same here.”

“We hope the Court is able to put abortion politics aside and focus on the illegitimacy of the medical claims propping up the restrictions,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. “When science claims are used to infringe a constitutional right they had better be valid, but that’s not the case here.”

The brief argues that the state’s testimony, as coordinated by Rue, “fails to demonstrate even a rational relation between the restrictions and the State’s legitimate interest in women’s health sufficient to overcome the burden that these restrictions create for women in Texas who are in need of essential and legally protected medical care.”

The amicus brief, filed by the Center for Inquiry, was joined by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, along with over 40 individual scientists and experts in reason and critical thinking, including psychologist Steven Pinker, anthropologist Eugenie Scott, physicist Lawrence Krauss, skeptic icon James Randi, social psychologist Carol Tavris, astrophysicist Jill Tarter, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

The complete brief can be downloaded at: centerforinquiry.net/TexasAbortionAmicus

I plan to read it.

And boy do I hope it succeeds.

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