The Chicago Tribune talks about the abortion bias of the fetal pain article

” A research article about when fetuses feel pain is sparking a heated debate over the nexus between science and politics and what information authors should disclose to scientific journals.

The report, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed previously published research and concluded that fetuses probably don’t feel pain until 29 weeks after conception because of their developing brain structures.

Undisclosed was the fact that one of the five authors runs an abortion clinic at San Francisco’s public hospital and another worked temporarily more than five years ago for an abortion-rights advocacy group.

Several ethicists said they consider those points regrettable omissions that left readers without important information. Other experts consider the authors’ background irrelevant.”

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  • Anonymous

    Medical research is not considered valid until it has been backed up by subsequent studies. If these researchers are biased, then other studies will bear that out. Research is also not generally considered valid unless published in a peer-reviewed journal. Furthermore, at what point do we expect researchers to declare potential biases? Should we require statements about religious convictions, volunteer activities, opinions and other potential conflicts? This could become ridiculous. That’s why research is not treated as fact until corroborated.

  • Vicki

    Inconvenient facts are always irrelevant. So what’s new?

    I, however, consider them highly relevant. Thank you for sharing the information.

  • Rich, MD

    If the researchers drew their incomes from a pharmaceutical industry, and the research was about a drug they would have to reveal it.

    Some of these researchers draw their income by facilitating a certain procedure, and their research is about the implcations of that procedure. They should also reveal it. The have a financial interest in the acceptance of their conclusions.

  • Anonymous

    Certainly, medical researchers’ opinions or biases can impact their research. One’s beliefs and hypotheses about how things work influence study design and analysis, which obviously influence results. This happens in every study. I think, therefore I am biased. The peer review process is designed to manage these biases, and generally works pretty well. I obviously do not know who the reviewers on this paper were, but JAMA is one of the best medical journals in the world, and the current editor of JAMA is a staunch Catholic personally opposed to abortion. I cannot imagine that this article was reviewed by pro-abortion lackeys. And, this article is addressing a potential medical issue irrelevant to abortion- fetal surgery. From my understanding of the arguments against abortion, abortion is considered wrong because it ends life, not because it ends life painfully. Is pain even relevant to the abortion debate? If abortion clinics started anesthesizing fetuses prior to the procedure, that would make it okay?
    Does sending nasty letters to the editor of JAMA really advance the cause of reducing the number of abortions?
    And RichMD, do you really think these abortion-providing docs have a similar financial interest to that of those who are involved in clinical trials for pharma companies? I would guess that a lot of that work is pro bono … as Anon 5:58 said, I don’t think it serves science to start disclosing every potential research bias.

  • Rich, MD

    Anon 9:24 –
    The standard for repporting a financial interest does not specify a magnitude – If a researcher get’s 500/yr from a pharma for hosting a dinner, they have to report their financial interest.
    This is true whenever I give a lecture on a medical topic that is accredied as educational – why should it not also be true when aauthoring a paper in a major scientific journal?

    I’m sure a lot of their work is pro-bono – So is mine. It does not mean that they do not have a fincancial interest.

  • Anonymous

    Fortunately we have media outlets like the Chicago Tribune, Foxnews, etc. that will expose this kind of bias when it occurs, whether it is required or not.

  • Rich, MD

    You mean I have to go to Chicago or get cable to read this in the media?

    I am sure that if a pro-life activist published an article that concluded the opposite, I would find out about the bias on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NYTimes, etc., etc.

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