Top academic journal to face 'legal action' after pulling pro-life papers

Studnicki and his fellow researchers have pointed to numerous occassions where Sage allowed pro-choice scientists to submit papers despite having clear conflicts of interest.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

Pro-life researchers whose studies related to abortion were pulled by Sage Journals on account of alleged failures to disclose "conflicts of interest" have announced that they are taking legal action. 

Lead researcher and Charlotte Lozier Institute Vice President James Studnicki accused the publication of employing "blatant double standards," pointing out that while it went after him and his team for their not going far enough in divulging their ties to pro-life organizations, it has not employed the same level of scrutiny to abortion-related researchers linked to pro-choice groups. 

In a statement to The College Fix, the Charlotte Lozier Institute confirmed that their research organization is "pursuing appropriate legal action" against the publication. 

"Our team of researchers has refuted every single critique about the research and we encourage all to read the studies to understand the reasoning behind the methodology and our rebuttals to the critiques," Studnicki told the outlet. "There is no legitimate reason for Sage's retractions." 

Sage first revealed that the retractions had been made on February 5, three months after the researchers were first notified that a reader had contacted the journal with "concerns" about data and conflicts of interest. 

The journal explained that an "independent reviewer with expertise in statistical analyses" evaluated the concerns and found numerous errors in the data. 

The publication also noted that it had "confirmed that all but one of the article's authors had an affiliation with one or more of Charlotte Lozier Institute, Elliot Institute, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, all pro-life advocacy organizations, despite having declared they had no conflicts of interest when they submitted the article for publication or in the article itself," and that, "a peer reviewer who evaluated the article for initial publication also was affiliated with Charlotte Lozier Institute at the time of the review." 

Studnicki made it clear, however, that the researchers' ties to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which is the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America organization, were visible. 

"This work was supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute," was written, for example, at the bottom of two articles. 

In a letter to Sage in November, attorney David Shaneyfelt argued that the publication had "uneccessarily and demonstratably harmed" [his] clients' professional reuptations," and called for a reassessment of the matter. 

Studnicki and his fellow researchers have pointed to numerous occasions where Sage allowed pro-choice scientists to submit papers despite having clear conflicts of interest. 

In one Sage article arguing for mifepristone access, for example, no conflicts of interest were mentioned despite the fact that the lead author supported abortion and the others were members of a pro-choice group. In another case, no conflict of interest was declared by Sage when research from The Guttmacher Institute, a well-known pro-choice group, was published. 

Despite the evidence supporting their claim, Sage told the researchers the idea that the publication held pro-life and pro-choice authors to different standards was "baseless and needlessly provocative." 

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