While researching something on PubMed I stumbled across a journal entitled Issues in Law and Medicine.
It appears that the vast majority of articles are either anti-choice (e.g. abortion causes breast cancer or childbirth is way safer than abortion) with a smattering of anti-vaccine articles.
I especially like the use of quotations around “Emergency Contraception.”
In Spring 2010 the subject matter was personhood. Yes, an entire issue of a journal dedicated to the idea that unborn children are constitutional persons.
So I looked up this journal and of course it claims to be a “peer-reviewed publication of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent & Disabled, Inc., and the Horatio R. Storer Foundation, Inc.”
Peer reviewed of course means nothing. People have shown that articles that make no sense (i.e. are actually gibberish) can get into journals of lesser repute that claim to be peer reviewed. If you can’t get something published it simply means you have not sit send enough times. Even with more established journals with reputations for good publications the peer review process can be gamed.
But if most of what you publish supports an anti-choice thinking (or anti-vaccine) and hence is not supported by science should you be entitled to be included in the National Library of Medicine?
What if I wanted to start a journal called “Issues in Geology and Topology” and I only included articles that supported the idea that the Earth is flat? Then I asked my flat earth society friends with degrees to peer review and also asked the authors to peer review each other and I only published articles that said the Earth is flat. Would anyone think that counted as a scientifically objective journal?
I hope not.
To be indexed by the National Library of Medicine a journal must meet standards of scientific objectivity so I am left to wonder how exactly the medical librarians at National Library of Medicine find Issues in Law & Medicine passes that metric.
So what you say? Well, when lawmakers and anti-choice activists look to pass laws that restrict access to abortion and birth control they hope to find “scientific articles” to bolster their claims. This may help sway colleagues and it also may help when the law is appealed because if a journal appears in the National Library of Medicine index it has passed some kind of test of quality.
I’m not saying we should censor anyone, by all means publish what you want, but in my opinion scientifically objective doesn’t include titles such as Normal breast physiology: the reasons hormonal contraceptives and induced abortion increase breast-cancer risk or have an article that revels in North Carolina’s Woman’s Right to Know Act.
Issues in law & medicine Journal Impact Factor on ResearchGate – Impact Factor Rankings (2013, 2014 and 2015). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/journal/8756-8160_Issues_in_law_medicine [accessed Dec 30, 2015].