Junk Science Will Appear Before the Supreme Court

Biased research and evidence are at the heart of upending reproductive autonomy.

Beaker with junk inside linked to scientists at lab tables
Two cases could tank reproductive autonomy at the Supreme Court—but they're based on junk science. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group illustration

This piece first appeared in our weekly newsletter, The Fallout.

Junk science has long been a mainstay of the anti-choice movement, and two court cases could enshrine it into law.

The first, FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, challenges expanding mifepristone access, which the Supreme Court will hear in late March. Two of the studies cited by Trump Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk to justify rolling back mifepristone approval have been retracted by the publisher because of undisclosed conflicts of interests and unreliable findings by their lead author, James Studnicki, of the anti-abortion “research” organization the Charlotte Lozier Institute. This retraction comes just days after the ACLU, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Lawyering Project, filed an amicus brief in the case itemizing the mountain of discredited experts and “transparently flawed and biased research” that the AHM case is built on.

Will this retraction sway the justices and result in the mifepristone challenge getting tossed (as it should be)? We likely won’t know until June, but I’m not holding my breath.

Then there’s L.W. v Skrmetti, which Imani Gandy and I covered on our podcast recently. In Skrmetti, attorneys for the ACLU are challenging Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents, arguing that singling out trans teens for a medical care ban violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. In defending its ban, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office is relying on—you guessed it—junk science.

The Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided if it’s going to take up Skrmetti, but given the accelerating attempts to ban gender-affirming care in conservatively gerrymandered states, it’s only a matter of time before the Court steps in. And when that time comes, junk science will be at the heart of that fight as well, because along with violence and intimidation, biased research and evidence are at the heart of the movement to upend reproductive autonomy.