When junk science infiltrated US public health policy: a year-end review

Rewire, by Sofia Resnick, 21 December 2016The need for vigilant fact-checking in 2016 did not – by any stretch – begin or end with the presidential election. Here are just a few of the most memorable instances of lawmakers and politicians – including the president-elect – employing junk science in an effort to restrict a constitutional right.▸ Biased Congressional Committee made false claims to advance Planned Parenthood investigationThe state of Utah passed a “Fetal Anesthesia” law requiring doctors to administer anaesthesia to a fetus before an abortion at or after 20 weeks’ gestation, based on the unsubstantiated claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy, despite an exhaustive scientific review to the contrary.▸ Trump claimed current law allows for abortions on “the final day of pregnancy”, which was described by one abortion provider as “callous misrepresentation of medical realities and complex situations faced by both patients and their physicians”.▸ Given Trump’s flagrant disregard for the truth when it comes to abortion, it should come as no surprise that his pick for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services belongs to a supposedly medical organization that opposes evidence-based science on vaccinations, HIV, and abortion.Photo: Conway Strategic, in Rewire