MO Republicans Demand College Student Destroy Her Abortion Research Or They’ll Defund University

The University of Missouri may be in the news for some very disturbing reasons, but Republicans aren’t mad about the school’s botched handling of racism; they are outraged that a doctoral student is doing research into how making abortions illegal hurts women.

Missouri state senator Kurt Schaefer was incensed to learn that a UM doctoral student named Lindsay Ruhr was doing her PhD dissertation on the effects of the 72-hour waiting period Republicans lawmakers recently enacted. Worried that her findings would make his anti-abortion stance look bad, and rather than let science dictate policy, Schaefer is attempting to have the university block Ruhr’s research and make it illegal to do any future research that could conceivably show that abortions aren’t unequivocally terrible. (I’m not exaggerating, either. In Missouri, there is a law on the books banning universities from “encouraging” abortions. He wants that to go even further. Research attempting to show abortions are bad, however, are presumably completely fine.)

Schaefer claims the student is biased in favor of abortions because her adviser is affiliated with the Planned Parenthood of Kansas. Ruhr stands by her research and says the data was gathered objectively and, like any good science, approached with as much impartiality as possible.

“I stand by my research project,” Lindsay Ruhr said Wednesday. “I feel that my research is objective, and that the whole point of my research is to understand how this policy affects women. Whether this policy is having a harmful or beneficial effect, we don’t know.”

Schaefer doesn’t seem equally concerned with his own rampant biases, such as being the chairman of the anti-abortion Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

If scientific research continues to be done to look at the effects of Republican ideological policymaking, Schaefer claims the Republican Party will be forced to pull funding for the public university for violating its agreement not to do research that makes Republicans look bad. Sadly, the University of Missouri has shown signs of caving to Republican pressure in the past. Already this summer the school cancelled several contracts with Planned Parenthood after conservatives grew upset over fraudulent, long-debunked “undercover” Planned Parenthood videos released by a pro-life activist group. Its cowardice in the face of Republican pressure led, in part, to the protests currently engulfing the school.

A brief survey of other topics Republicans are trying to make it illegal to study:

Abortions in Missouri aren’t the only scientific arena that Republicans have made it forbidden to study. The list of inconvenient truths Republicans hope they can keep out of the light grows by the year.

  • There is the federal ban on studying gun deaths and gun control. This has been on the books for several decades following an aggressive push by the NRA to stop finding data that contradicted its “more guns are better”narrative. It’s prevented crucial research into how best to combat mass shootings and prevent gun accidents in the home.
  • There is the very open, unapologetic harassment of climate scientists. Republicans have increasingly sought to cut any and all funding to scientists studying the Earth’s climate because they keep finding more data to suggest the planet really is warming. More recently, the House Science Committee actually demanded climate scientists working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drop everything they are doing and hand over every email and document – personal or professional – they had ever written in the last seven years. They didn’t bother providing a reason.
  • They’ve also prevented scientists from studying right-wing terrorism in the United States and forced the preeminent expert on the subject out of a job. Again, the only objection they could muster was that the facts his research was finding made conservatives look bad. In the years since, we’ve seen a huge increase in right-wing homegrown threats which, thanks to the enforced blockade on research, we know almost nothing about.

The list goes on. As Republican ideology continues to detach itself from what the rest of us call “reality,” the push on the right to keep those facts hidden grows. No longer is it confined to misinformation in the conservative media. Republicans are trying to destroy the source – and that means all of science is threatened.

Feature image via ABC17