Finding 1: Degree of Medical Inaccuracy

Across the states, levels of ‘medical inaccuracy‘ ranged from about 15 percent to 47 percent.

North Carolina had the highest percentage of inaccurate statements (46%) and Alaska had the lowest (15%). We found no significant association between levels of inaccuracy and geographical region or party affiliation by state (see map).

Examples of medical inaccuracies include the following: from week 2, “the head has formed” (average score of 5); from week 4, “brain activity can be recorded” (average score of 4.75); and from week 9, “hiccups begin” (average score of 4). By contrast, a statement rated as medically accurate regarding the same stage of brain development reads: “A ridge of tissue forms down the length of the embryo. That tissue will later develop into the brain and spinal cord”

Experts rated as “don’t know / unsure” 29 percent of all statements. These often pertained to traits not addressed in embryological medical texts, such as “activities” of the fetus like thumb sucking, right- and left-handedness, hands making a fist, complex facial expressions, fetal response to light touch, or fetal response to being “poked by a needle.”

Levels of ‘Medical Inaccuracy’ by State