The public’s confidence in scientific institutions has suffered greatly during Covid-19 as lockdowns and mask mandates outlived the underlying evidence. Don’t expect that to improve as an ostensibly prestigious medical journal tries to politicize medicine with an editorial denouncing Supreme Court Justice
The Lancet exhorts this week that, “The fact is that if the US Supreme Court confirms its draft decision” overturning Roe v. Wade, “women will die. The Justices who vote to strike down Roe will not succeed in ending abortion, they will only succeed in ending safe abortion. Alito and his supporters will have women’s blood on their hands.”
Allow us to offer some peer editorial review. The Court’s draft decision doesn’t end abortion in America. It returns the question to the states, where the public and elected representatives would debate and vote.
Many states would continue to allow the procedure throughout pregnancy. Some may ban it in most instances. Others would likely end up closer to where public opinion is: Allowing abortion early in pregnancy and in certain instances later, such as cases of rape or when the life of the mother is compromised.
The Lancet editors lament that Justice Alito’s leaked draft opinion is based on “an 18th century document”—you know, the U.S. Constitution—and ask what “kind of society has the USA become when a small group of Justices is allowed to harm women, their families, and their communities that they have been appointed to protect?” The Justices are beholden to the law and are no more qualified to settle the political consequences than, well, medical doctors are to wade into rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
These journals are supposed to be forums for debate and academic rigor. And there is a debate worth having in the medical profession about abortion: Less than a quarter of American ob-gyns perform abortions, according to one survey. The top reason for declining? Personal objections to the practice.
The Lancet is trying to lend the imprimatur of science to an American legal and political debate. But the journal will damage the pro-abortion cause if the public starts to dismiss medical expertise as merely another vehicle for the progressive agenda.
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Appeared in the May 14, 2022, print edition as ‘Another Miss for Politicized Science.’