Attacking the Messenger: Abortion Lobby Targets Charlotte Lozier Institute

Stung by the institute’s findings about the harms associated with abortion, activists have mounted a campaign to discredit the pro-life organization and its credible research.

Logo for the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
Logo for the Charlotte Lozier Institute. (photo: CLI )

After more than a decade of conducting substantive research on pro-life issues, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) and its scholars are facing a wave of attacks on the integrity of their work. 

Karen Czarnecki, Lozier’s executive director, said the institute and the credible scientific research it does clearly have become a threat to the pro-abortion movement in the wake of the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. 

“Up until the Dobbs decision,” Czarnecki told the Register, “the abortion lobby was able to control the abortion narrative that included one-sided research and its widespread dissemination. Dobbs gave the pro-life movement a seat at the table, allowing organizations like CLI the opportunity to advance solid research based upon scientific principles and academic rigor that cuts against the widespread pro-abortion narrative in the medical and scientific communities.”

But since Dobbs, abortion advocates have declared “everything is under attack” concerning “reproductive rights” and they have responded accordingly, targeting any perceived threat. 

Sage Publications, a medical research journal, recently retracted three of the Lozier Institute’s scholarly studies studies following a complaint from a pro-abortion pharmaceutical sciences professor. That in turn spawned stories in mainstream media outlets that discredited the institute. 

That the Lozier Institute is in its crosshairs is evident from the recent criticism that has been leveled at CLI’s research by the scientific community and subsequent reporting in the mainstream media. This ramped-up opposition likely can be attributed to the institute’s increased visibility. Although its work was cited just once in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs majority opinion, 17 amicus briefs submitted to the court contained 16 references to Lozier research. 

Additionally, a recent Supreme Court case challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) changes to regulations on use of the abortion pill mifepristone further shined a spotlight on Lozier. The institute filed an amicus brief in support of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine in the case and its work was cited in a lower court ruling suspending FDA approval of mifepristone

“CLI’s research has been instrumental in litigation, legislation and the culture at large, serving mothers and saving the lives of unborn babies,” Czarnecki said. “The abortion lobby took notice of CLI’s growing impact and did what they do best — try to silence, stifle and shut down real scientific inquiry that allows women to make informed decisions based on sound science and real facts that affect their lives.”


Sage Publications Retraction

In February, after an investigation prompted by an anonymous complaint, Sage Publications retracted three studies by Lozier scholars, citing “undeclared conflicts of interest” and “a lack of scientific rigor that invalidates or renders unreliable the authors’ conclusions.” 

Four months after the complaint was made, it was revealed that the source was Chris Adkins, a pharmaceutical sciences professor in Savannah, Georgia, and an abortion rights activist. Adkins also was among more than 300 reproductive health researchers to sign an amicus brief supporting the FDA and Danco Laboratories in the mifepristone case that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court June 13.

Lozier since has mounted a vigorous defense of its work, alleging that the retractions constitute censorship and that Sage has yet to advance any legitimate objections to the studies’ findings. The institute has created an Assault on Science website on which the retracted papers are posted along with responses by the authors, a timeline of the action by Sage Publications, and examples of studies by pro-abortion institutions such as the Guttmacher Institute and Society of Family Planning that have not been retracted by Sage. 

“Despite the constant attacks from pro-abortion researchers in recent months,” Czarnecki said, “we stand by all our findings, and we remain steadfast and ready to defend it from baseless attacks. Tragically, the captured pro-abortion medical community is more interested in canceling CLI rather than engaging in open inquiry.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said Lozier’s studies are academically rigorous and said attacks against them reveal the threat certain groups feel when presented with solid data that fails to support their pro-abortion agenda. “No one wins when authentic science is suppressed to promote a particular political ideology,” she said. 


Media Attacks

Still, the Sage retractions have spawned a series of mainstream media articles questioning Lozier’s research. One, in The Guardian, referred to the retracted studies as “junk science.”  

NBC News in a piece focusing on Dr. Ingrid Skop, the institute’s vice president and director of medical affairs, suggested CLI’s research is flawed and contrasted it with that of the Guttmacher Institute, which was begun in 1968 as part of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. The article quoted a Guttmacher scientist as saying the institute, which has since become independent of Planned Parenthood, has never had any studies retracted. 

A more recent article, in The Wall Street Journal, looked at one of Lozier’s studies and two others that raised questions about abortion safety and were published, but later disputed, disavowed or retracted. 

The article points out that the studies have been cited in more than two dozen anti-abortion lawsuits, including Dobbs, and said all the authors of the studies believe efforts to question their work were politically motivated. 

Czarnecki said the criticism being leveled at Lozier’s work and scholars is unlike anything seen before. 

“Retractions cause severe reputational harm,” she said, “and we’ve experienced attacks from the media, authors in the scientific community and even from a justice on the Supreme Court.” During oral argument in the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine mifepristone case, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson referred to one of the retracted Lozier studies saying, “... Representations were made here today that the lower courts actually relied on studies that have long since been found discredited and removed.” 


Pro-Life Resource

Started in 2011 as the research and education arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Lozier is sometimes described as the pro-life response to the Guttmacher Institute. CLI sees its mission as advising and leading the pro-life movement by providing scientific, statistical and medical research that in turn can help educate policymakers, the press and the public. Experts in medicine, statistical analysis, sociology, bioethics, public health, law and social services are among its 70-plus associate scholars. 

Peter Range, chief executive officer of Ohio Right to Life, said CLI’s research has been invaluable to his organization’s work. 

“Their research helps us to move the needle with those who want to see the research behind the pro-life position,” he said. 

However, CLI’s pro-life point of view has been an issue in recent attacks on its work and reputation. 

Kristi Hamrick of Students for Life, which has used Lozier’s research in legislative testimony and in the group’s campus apologetics and advocacy work, said she has seen the institute attacked for having “viewpoint bias.” She said she finds that laughable and hypocritical given pro-abortion groups like Guttmacher have their research presented in the media as authoritative science. 

Charles Donovan, Lozier founder and its former president, recently addressed the viewpoint bias question in a letter to the editor in the journal Accountability in Research

“Possessing a view on a matter of ethics subject to policy considerations is not a conflict of interest,” Donovan wrote. If it were, scientific and statistical studies on issues ranging from climate change to health policy to human trafficking would not exist.” He added, “Works of data or scientific analysis must be assessed on their accuracy and merit, not on the biases of those who disagree with some or all of the views of the authors whose work is under review.”

Czarnecki said CLI’s research stands apart from the kind of pro-abortion research done by Guttmacher because it considers the two people most impacted by an abortion — both mother and unborn child. 

“Our expansive, interdisciplinary research includes the unborn baby’s development, mental health impacts of abortion, coercion and international abortion trends, all topics not touched by Guttmacher,” she said. “Additionally, Guttmacher investigators, like all pro-abortion scientists, benefit from a medical, scientific and media bias in favor of unrestricted abortion.”