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Journal Retracts Studies Cited in Federal Court Ruling Against Abortion Pill

An academic journal publisher this week retracted two studies that were cited by a federal judge in Texas last year when he ruled that the abortion pill mifepristone should be taken off the market.

Most of the authors of the studies are doctors and researchers affiliated with anti-abortion groups, and their reports suggested that medication abortion causes dangerous complications, contradicting the widespread evidence that abortion pills are safe.

The lawsuit in which the studies were cited will be heard by the Supreme Court in March. The high court’s ruling could have major implications for access to medication abortion, which is now the most common method of pregnancy termination.

The publisher, Sage Journals, said it had asked two independent experts to evaluate the studies, published in 2021 and 2022 in the journal Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology, after a reader raised concerns.

Sage said both experts had “identified fundamental problems with the study design and methodology, unjustified or incorrect factual assumptions, material errors in the authors’ analysis of the data, and misleading presentations of the data that, in their opinions, demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor and invalidate the authors’ conclusions in whole or in part.”

The publisher also retracted a third study by many of the same authors that was published in 2019 in the same journal, which did not figure in the mifepristone lawsuit.

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