Bookdrunk, who has a special interest such affairs, has been giving Mad Nadine Dorries a repeated and much-deserved kicking over the last few months. Here's a typical sample, exploying the Polly conundrum, of the academic Bookdrunk's output.
nadine dorries: ignorant or lying (part 92)
To be fair, Nadine Dorries is either horribly ignorant about something she claims to be well informed about.... or she's a liar. As Unity points out, the data showing survival rates for births before 24 weeks touted by Dorries is currently far from reliable. It's certainly at odds with existing peer-reviewed evidence, discussed in part over the weekend.
Ben Goldacre's summary tells you most of what you need to know:
Even if this data stands up eventually, right now it is non-peer reviewed, non-published, utterly chaotic, personal communication of data, from 1996 to 2000, with no clear source, and with no information about how it was collected or analysed. That would be fine if it hadn’t suddenly become central to the debate on abortion.
You may also remember that - far from being grateful for attempting to bring clarity to the debate - Dorries accused Goldacre of breaching parliamentary procedure by.. reading public accessible evidence, a baseless slur which she has never publicly addressed.
Presumably any call for an apology would be met with another display of name-calling and denial.
This is a hoax. Or, if you prefer, a lie.
Now the aforementioned Ben Goldacre has emailed me to draw your humble Devil's attention to Nadine's latest load of old shit, which you see pictured to the left. What's wrong with this picture (to quote Placebo)? Surely it shows, as the ineffably insane Nadine claims, an ickle foetus reaching out to clutch the surgeon's hand: after all, the camera never lies, right?
In fact it seems this is a myth propagated over email and through fabulous Christian websites.
Dr Joseph Bruner—the surgeon himself—tells a rather different story.“It has become an urban legend,” says Bruner, the Vanderbilt University surgeon who fixed the spina bifida lesion on Samuel.
Some opponents of abortion have claimed that the baby reached through the womb and grabbed the doctor’s hand.
Not true, Bruner says.
Samuel and his mother, Julie, were under anesthesia and could not move.
“The baby did not reach out,” Bruner says. “The baby was anesthetized. The baby was not aware of what was going on.”
[”Hand of a Fetus Touched the World.” USA Today. 2 May 2000 (p. D8)]
And here:Dr. Joseph P. Bruner stated, “Depending on your political point of view, this is either Samuel Armas reaching out of the uterus and touching the finger of a fellow human, or it’s me pulling his hand out of the uterus … which is what I did.”
[“Photo of fetal surgery still stirs emotion.” The Tennessean Newspaper January 9th, 2000]
The hoax has been discussed here, here, here, and here.
I am also very happy to link, in the name of transparency and thoroughness, to here, where the photographer disputes Dr Bruner’s account of his own surgical operation on an anaesthetised patient.
Apart from anything else, the surgeon was operating on the foetus—if, as Dorries claims, foetuses can feel pain and this is a reason for dropping the term limit of abortions, would it not be rather cruel to operate on a conscious foetus? I can't help thinking that Nadine hasn't really thought this one through.
Further, Nadine was once a nurse and one would have thought that she would have realised that the mother must be anaesthetised and that, due to the fact that anaesthetics cross the placental wall, that the baby, too, must be unconscious.
But then, Nadine Dorries is completely barking (as well as being a liar and a deeply unpleasant person to boot) and the insane are not renowned for their powers of rational thought, almost by definition, really.
Still, to be caught out so blatantly, using a picture which contradicts her own argument, is, it seems, pretty much par for the course as far as Dorries goes. But then, politicians are renowned for being almost congenitally unable to tell the truth; it's just that some of them are not completely stupid.
Nadine, alas, cannot even claim the latter virtue.