Our Research Approach: Panel of Experts and Data Assessment

Our Data:

We collected ‘informed consent’ materials from the twenty-three states that had materials available in 2013.  We extracted all statements about embryological and fetal development from these booklets.  We compiled a total of 896 statements (such as “Week 4: The embryo is ½ to ¾ inches in length”). We removed all state identifying information for the purpose of our experts’ review.  We organized the statements by two-week developmental periods (as they were presented in state materials) and standardized by age as weeks since “last menstrual period” (LMP). Statements were further subdivided by body part or function (e.g., as “nervous system,” “size,” or “eyes”). These subdivisions reflected the content of state-produced booklets, which often went into great detail about particular body parts or systems, such as the heart, brain, eyes, ears, lungs, nervous system, and extremities, like fingers and toes

 ‘Medical Accuracy’ defined:

We defined medical accuracy as information that was both ‘truthful’ (defined as “scientifically correct in terms of biological development”) and ‘nonmisleading’ (meaning that it gives a “correct impression”).  These reflect the constitutional standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court in in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania et al. v. Robert P. Casey et al. (505 U.S. 833 (1992))

Our Experts:

We recruited a team of 7 specialists in embryological and fetal development through the American Association of Anatomists to evaluate these materials. Four were men and three were women. Reviewers each had between 25 to 45 years of professional experience. Reviewers were informed they were evaluating state-mandated materials about embryonic and fetal development to a woman.

We found no relationship between experts’ ratings of statements and either their demographic traits or attitudinal responses, controlling for religion, political views or attitudes towards abortion.

Our Evaluation:

Experts rated each statement on two 5-point scales measuring “truthfulness” and “nonmisleadingness,” ranging from 1 (completely true/nonmisleading) to 5 (completely false/misleading).  We rated as ‘medically inaccurate’ any statement that had an average rating of  3 or more on either scale.

Our Five-Point Scales:

We used Qualtrics software to develop our two five-point scales.

This image of our survey shows an example of our two scales and of the presentation of statements to the reviewers.

This image of our survey shows an example of our two scales and of the presentation of statements to the reviewers.