It was a motley crew: the leader was a guy with a theory of “post-abortion syndrome” & a Home Ec degree. Others included: the plastic surgeon who screwed up Linda Tripp's face lift; a male emergency room doctor who needs to be “told” why a woman has come to the hospital with complications; a sociologist who thinks it's no big deal if poor women have to travel hundreds of miles & spend days in hotels in order to get a legal medical procedure; & a North Carolina obstetrician & professor who travels the country (for money) supporting TRAP laws as “the current standard of care.”
To date, the state has paid them $142,721.25 for their testimony and “assistance” with the trial.
Let's start with the ringleader: Vincent Rue, who collected a whopping $82,890 from Alabama during 2013 & 2014.
Rue has a long and sordid history as a professional “anti-abortion expert.” He's a psychotherapist (or is that “psycho” therapist?) who coined the term “post-abortion syndrome” to refer to a form of mental illness women experience after getting an abortion. Which would mean, essentially, that he believes one in three American women is mentally ill. He's also a proponent of giving men veto power over their partner's abortion (because of the “damage” abortion does to men, you understand), meaning that he thinks men have a “right” to control women's reproductive choices. Hey girls! They may transfer the sperm to you, but they still own it!
Mother Jones magazine covered Rue's “expert witness” history in detail earlier this year:
Rue, who holds a doctorate in family relations from the University of North Carolina School of Home Economics, has claimed that “abortion reescalates the battle between the sexes” and “abortion increases bitterness toward men.” For decades, he has strived to convince mainstream researchers to recognize “post-abortion syndrome,” a supposed mental illness resulting from abortion.
But “after submission for peer review by scientists with the Center for Disease Control, the National Center for Health Statistics and other scientific institutions, [Rue's] study was found to have 'no value' and to be 'based upon a priori beliefs rather than an objective review of the evidence,'” according to Daniel Huyett, a federal judge who disregarded Rue's testimony in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a landmark 1990 abortion case that eventually ended up before the Supreme Court. “His testimony is devoid of…analytical force and scientific rigor,” Huyett added. “Moreover, his admitted personal opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, suggests a possible personal bias.” Rue “possesses neither the academic qualifications nor the professional experience of plaintiffs' expert witnesses,” another federal judge wrote in 1986 after hearing Rue's testimony in another landmark abortion case, Hodgson v. Minnesota.
Rue has testified, written reports, and coached witness during abortion lawsuits since the mid-1980's. In the past two years alone, he's pocketed over $200,000 in taxpayer money from Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Next up, we have emergency room physician Dr. James Anderson, who was paid $16,350 to essentially repeat testimony that Vincent Rue prepared for him. Anderson defended the “admitting privliges” requirement in Alabama's TRAP law because women might be “embarrassed” to admit they'd had an abortion (reckon why?) and he wouldn't know why they were bleeding unless the doctor who performed the procedure was on hand. What a medical marvel he is!
Dr. Anderson has a history of being Rue's mouthpiece (think of the scene in “Chicago” where Roxie sits on lawyer Billy Flynn's lap). From the Mother Jones article:
Rue engaged James C. Anderson, a Virginia emergency room physician, to testify not only in Wisconsin, but also in Alabama, Alaska, North Dakota, and Texas.
Rue often drafts written testimony for his star witnesses. In Alabama, Anderson testified that Rue had written his supplemental report to the court—Anderson had merely signed his name to it. When pressed by the judge, Anderson revealed that Rue had provided most of the research for his main report, too.
According to Anderson, Rue helped coordinate witnesses to defend Alaska's 2010 parental notification law.
A few days earlier, in Alabama, Anderson testified that he didn't know courts had disregarded Rue's testimony.
“You say you don't know his employment or any organizations that he belongs to,” the judge asked Anderson. “Why do you trust him?”
Another member of Rue's crew, Dr. John Thorp, is a North Carolina ob/gyn & professor at Chapel Hill. He collected $34,131.25.
Dr. Thorp has allegedly researched the “physical harm” done to women by abortions. His study on that harm was refused by peer-reviewed journals & only saw print when he placed it in a “pay to publish” journal.
Thorp ran into some trouble when he testified in Wisconsin. Turns out he has problems with decimal places:
Thorp's report to the court claimed that a small but significant percentage of abortions, 2 to 10 percent, result in complications. On cross-examination, Thorp admitted that he misplaced a decimal point—the report should have read .2 to 10 percent. Thorp's method for reaching 10 percent was also dubious. He explained that he arrived at 10 percent by adding up the highest rates of complication in abortions found in several other studies—which added up to 7 percent. He then inflated 7 percent to 10 percent because he suspected that abortion providers underreport complications. When the cross-examining attorney noted that he hadn't accounted for the fact that some patients may experience several complications, Thorp said, “So make it to account for overlap, and knock a point off.”
Thorp is one of several witnesses Rue has tapped repeatedly.
Nothing like dealing in specifics when you're dealing with womens' lives & health is there?
University of North Carolina Sociology professor Peter Uhlenberg displayed a rather unsociologist-like lack of interest in actual numbers and statistics during his Alabama testimony. He was sure that forcing women to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion and perhaps spend a few nights in a hotel isn't an “undue burden,” even though he has no actual numbers that support hs conclusions. What's more, he said that it's offensive to assume those women can't handle “complex planning.”
“Uhlenberg was also skeptical of plaintiffs' assertions that increased travel distance would impose a greater burden on poor women, who make up the substantial majority of abortion patients. That conclusion, he said “suggests women who are poor are incapable of planning and carrying out a trip of more than 100 miles to obtain something important.”
He was pretty cheap, all things considered, “earning” only $8350.
The final “expert” – plastic surgeon Geoffery Keyes – appears to have testified for free. Or at least hasn't submitted his invoice yet. Dr. Keyes is best known for being the second most-frequently-sued plastic surgeon in California & for screwing up Linda Tripp's facelift.
Dr. Keyes testified in Alabama and Texas about the benefits of physician admitting privileges and “standards and continuity of care.” Given his litigation history, we guess he knows about bit of “standards of care.” Also note that Dr. Keyes is now the Executive Director of the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. it's a group that inspects surgical centers for quality and pushes for greater legislation and regulation of them. No doubt if Keyes didn't make money from his testimony on the front end, he hopes help the AAAASF rake in some cash on the back end.
I guess, in some twisted way, it makes sense to make Dr. Keyes the ED. Kind of like President Roosevelt making Joeseph Kennedy head of the SEC on the rational that “it takes a pirate to catch pirates.”
Reading this, you have to wonder. What the heck goes on in North Carolina? Thorp practices there, Rue got his degree there, and Uhlenberg teaches Sociology there.
Note that in 2013, the Alabama Legislature was prepared to spend up to $80,000 to defend the TRAP law. Looks like, as the case fell apart, the state had to go a bit over budget. It's not an over-run campers: it's just GOP math.
Read our coverage of the TRAP lawsuit hearing (with entertaining commentary & testimony excerpts from some of these experts). And keep on top of reproductive rights issues here in Alabama at the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA) Web site.