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Med Students Question Professor for Signing Supreme Court Marriage Brief

University of Utah Hospital

A group of medical students at the University of Utah have sent a letter questioning a faculty member, after he signed a brief to the US Supreme Court claiming that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to an increase in abortions.

Dr. Richard Farnsworth is a pediatrician in Provo and an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. He’s also one of several Utahns who signed on to a controversial brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court written by attorney Gene Schaerr. The brief argues that a redefinition of marriage will lead to fewer opposite-sex marriages. According to the brief, that would lead to more children born to unwed mothers, and nearly 900,000 more children aborted in a 30-year period.

“It was one of those things that you’re taken aback when you read a number like 900,000 abortions being caused by the legalization of same sex marriage. It just sounded like poor science,” says Matthew Petersen, a first year student at the U’s School of Medicine. Petersen and 55 other medical students have signed a letter addressed to Dr. Farnsworth.

“We believe that as physicians our responsibility is to use and promote good science to help treat people and heal people,” Petersen says. “Our question for Dr. Farnsworth is, are you signing on behalf of the university? Is this science that you believe and are promoting? How comfortable are you working with LGBT patients or as a professor working with LGBT students who are future physicians?”

KUER was not able to reach Richard Farnsworth in time for this story’s broadcast. The University of Utah released a statement saying Dr. Farnsworth was expressing his personal views and not those of the university. The brief was signed by professors at Brigham Young University and Utah State University. Utah Valley University president Matthew Holland also signed the brief, a move that has been criticized by faculty there.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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