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Utah Pediatrician Responds to Med Students, Affirms Opposition to Same Sex Marriage

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A Utah Valley pediatrician says he is standing by his support of a legal brief to the US Supreme Court opposing same sex marriage, after University of Utah medical students questioned whether it was appropriate for him to do so.

Last week, 56 University of Utah Medical students sent Associate Adjunct Professor Richard Farnsworth a letter. They questioned the pediatrician for signing his name on a legal brief that claims the legalization of same sex-marriage will cause 900,000 abortions over a 30 year period. The students wanted to know, given his support of this brief, if Dr. Farnsworth was comfortable working with LGBT patients. Farnsworth says he takes issue with that question.  

“The way the question was worded, it almost sounded like there was a little bit of derision, that anybody who disagrees with people who support same sex marriage have got to be bigoted or discriminate, and that’s just so not true,” Farnsworth says. “In all my years in working in pediatrics and working with different families, I’ve always tried to treat all families and people with respect.”

The students questioned Farnsworth’s qualifications to speak as a marriage expert and wanted to know whether he believed the science in the brief. In a letter responding to the students, Farnsworth said that in nearly 35 years of practice, he has learned a lot about what works best for children and families. He also says he has reviewed the literature, and that yes, he does believe the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to fewer traditional marriages, more unwed mothers, more babies born out of wedlock, and hundreds of thousands of abortions. 

“My evaluation of the current state of the literature is changing the law will hurt children, and therefore I’m opposed to changing the law,” Farnsworth says.

While he stands by these arguments, Dr. Farnsworth states clearly in his letter that he does not speak for the University of Utah medical school. The students responded in a written statement, saying, “We are grateful to Dr. Farnsworth for his response and for his commitment to equality in medicine. We reaffirm our dedication to evidence-based medicine and sound research and appreciate valuable dialogue this discussion has created."

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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