Wednesday, 31 October 2007

More minority report

More from the Minority Report (Ben Goldacre is currently hosting the reports):
"Dr Joel Brind and Dr Greg Gardner submitted detailed evidence to this inquiry that claims there is a causal link between breast cancer and abortion. They are critical of Beral’s meta-analysis because it omitted some studies which they considered valid and included others that he considered invalid. Dr Sam Rowlands made a similar accusation of Dr Brind’s submission, pointing out that several key papers were missing."
But here is what the main report has to say:
"Dr Richards told us that “if you compare women who keep their pregnancy with those who have an induced abortion, those who have an induced abortion are more likely to get breast cancer later on”.197 This is the comparative group that Dr Brind favours and the result is expected, since carrying a first pregnancy to birth is protective against breast cancer.198 However, if you look at the rates of cancer between women who have had an abortion and those who have not had children, the effect disappears."
Brilliant! Tell women that having an abortion will give them breast cancer because having a child is protective against breast cancer, and then 'protect' them by making terminations more difficult. And don't stop there, early childbirth will protect all women against breast cancer so ban contraception. Only one more step to the Handmaid's Tale and forced child bearing.

Here's some more:
"We are most concerned that no expert in foetal ultrasound was called upon to give answers to questions posed in this section, and that instead the committee relied on testimony from neurobiologists and paediatricians. Why was Professor Stuart Campbell, who pioneered this work, not called? This cannot be justified on the basis that he did not submit evidence because Fitzgerald was summoned to give oral evidence without submitting written evidence. This appears to be a serious omission. We hope that the reason was not because Campbell does not personally support a liberalisation agenda, whereas both Derbyshire and Fitzgerald do."
And from the main report:

"While 4D imaging is a useful technology in terms of identifying anatomical abnormalities,71 there have been no published scientific papers marking a contribution of 4D images to the scientific understanding of the neurobiology of foetal development and consciousness. Professor Maria Fitzgerald, from University College London, told us that “In terms of 4D imaging, I do not think it has told us anything about the development of the nervous system. An image of a body tells you nothing about the nervous system.”72 Professor Marlow added that “[4D imaging] is helpful in terms of prediction of abnormality and therefore one is able to see structures that one would not see in ordinary, two dimensional, real time, 3D ultrasound. I do not think it tells us any more about foetal development than we probably knew already.”73 This position is further supported by Professor Wyatt: “at the moment I think the consensus is they do not add a great deal in terms of the science.”"
Yep, rather than a great conspiracy to silence the 'pioneering' 4D king Prof. Campbell, the fact is they add nothing to the debate about foetal pain because they are just pictures.

How about Anand where the Minority Report said:
"The RCOG...are ‘unaware of the work of Dr Anand or any other work that contradicts the basic findings of (their) review’. For the RCOG to report the studies of researchers who share their own official position, whilst ignoring research published by other leading researchers with contrary views, is at the very least misleading and at worst a serious abuse of power. It seems bizarre that the RCOG has not made more of an effort to find out more about contrary evidence before making such a bold public statement. It surely owes both Anand and Parliament a formal apology and explanation of why it has apparently ‘cherry picked’ the scientific evidence to support its opposition to a lowering of the 24 week upper limit for abortion."

Here's the main report:
"Although we did not receive evidence from Professor Sunny Anand, nor did any of those originally submitting evidence refer to his work or publications, we did consider a review article co-authored by him which was published recently,53 together with submission from Dr Stuart Derbyshire which offers commentary upon it and refers to Dr Anand’s earlier work in this area.54 We note that the main thrust of his important previous work has been to show neonates have better outcomes when provided with anaesthesia and analgesia during surgery and other stressful procedures and that noxious stimuli during gestation can have a detrimental impact on the long-term development of an infant; we have been unable to see the direct relevance of this work to the question of abortion."

Yep, the Committee were unable to find what this important work Anand is supposed to have done is, other than writing a review article which makes no sense.

It is interesting to compare the Minority Report to the Dispatches documentary, all the same faces crop up, Campbell, Anand, none of whom actually have anything scientific to say, I wonder if there might have been some coordination going on?

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