Texas Pays Thousands to 'Long-Discredited Quack' to Help Defend Anti-Abortion Law

Today an attorney for plaintiffs seeking to block implementation of the state’s draconian anti-abortion law, last year’s House Bill 2, accused Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office of hiding the full extent of its collaboration with a discredited marriage therapist who insists that abortion causes mental illness. Quorum Report (subscription required) has the story on today’s action in the federal court case in Austin.

Whole Woman’s Health, which at one time provided abortion care at clinics in Austin and South and Southeast Texas, has asked the court to block implementation of HB 2 because it imposes an undue burden on women seeking an abortion. Far-right lawmakers and allied groups have celebrated as the onerous and medically unnecessary requirements in HB 2 have forced many abortion clinics to close in Texas. If HB 2’s final provisions go into effect on September 1, the number of abortion clinics in the entire state will drop to as few as six from a total of 41 in June 2013.

According to Quorum Report, the attorney for Whole Woman’s Health says the state AG has failed to disclose how much Florida therapist Vincent Rue had helped the state in the case against HB 2. The AG’s deception appears to have angered federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, who is hearing the case against HB 2. From the Austin Chronicle:

The state also sought to defend as common practice anti-abortion advocate Vincent Rue’s paid consultant work for the Attorney General – including extensive editing and drafting of defendant testimony. But Judge Yeakel slammed the AG’s office, saying the “state effectively tried to hide Rue’s involvement,” and describing the evidence as “very disturbing” in the eyes of the court.

Mother Jones reported on Wednesday that the AG has paid Rue more $42,000 in less than six months to aid its defense of HB 2. The AG did so despite Rue’s poor reputation. From Mother Jones:

(T)o defend its abortion restrictions, Texas brought in Rue, who helped draft, edit, and find citations for the reports its experts witnesses submit to the court. But Rue, who holds a doctorate in family relations from the University of North Carolina School of Home Economics, is an odd choice for the job—”a long-discredited quack,” in the view of one state representative from Wisconsin, where Rue performed similar defense work. Although Rue testified about the harms of abortion in two landmark abortion cases in the early 1990s, the judges in those cases dismissed his testimony as personally biased and lacking expertise. Rue has pushed the medical mainstream to recognize “post-abortive syndrome”—a mental illness that supposedly results from abortion—only to have organizations such as the National Center for Health Statistics pan his research. In 1981, he claimed in a report to the US Senate that “abortion re-escalates the battle between the sexes” and “abortion increases bitterness toward men.”

“He has been really thoroughly discredited by trial courts,” Priscilla Smith, who directs Yale Law School’s reproductive justice studies program, told Mother Jones in June; Smith faced Rue many years ago as a litigator.

This hasn’t stopped Rue from getting regular work as an expert on abortion, although he no longer testifies in court. In the past two years, Republican administrations in four states—Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin—have paid or promised to pay Rue $192,205.50 in exchange for help defending anti-abortion laws.

Your tax dollars at work, folks.

The law’s final provisions will go into effect September 1 unless Yeakel blocks them.