Dr. James C. Anderson

Dr. James Corr Anderson is an emergency room physician specializing in family medicine and an associate director at Chesterfield Family Practice Center in Richmond, Virginia. Additionally, he is a clinical professor within the Department of Family Medicine & Population Health at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Signature Falsehood: That it is necessary for abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges in order to protect patients.
Setting the Record Straight: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association say there is “simply no medical basis” for local admitting privileges requirements on abortion providers.”

Credentials

  • BS, University of Virginia, 1974
  • MD, University of Virginia, 1978
  • Board certified in family practice, 1981
  • Board certified in advanced cardiac life support, 1984
  • Board certified in advanced trauma life support, 1992
  • Board certified in emergency medicine by the American Association of Physician Specialists, 1996
  • Col., U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps (2002-2012)

Affiliations

  • American Academy of Family Physicians, member
  • American Medical Association, member
  • Christian Medical and Dental Society, member
  • Family Policy Council, chairman
  • Medical Society of Virginia, member
  • Richmond Academy of Medicine, member
  • Richmond Christian Medical & Dental Society, executive board member
  • Virginia Academy of Family Physicians, member
  • Virginia Physicians for Life, chairman

Connected To

Role Within the Anti-Choice Movement

Anderson has participated in many Christian organizations that advocate for abstinence until marriage and against access to safe abortion care (e.g., Abstinence—Now Until Marriage and March for Jesus).

He has also testified in support of anti-choice policies in courts across the country, particularly state laws that require abortion providers to acquire admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Among the cases Rewire has identified, Anderson has testified regarding laws passed or challenged in Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Anderson has given similar testimonies in each case, essentially arguing that being able to provide continuity of care in a hospital following an emergency is best medical practice. He has also argued that abortion providers should be required to have admitting privileges at local hospitals in order to ensure that the same person who performs an abortion can continue the patient’s care should the patient require hospitalization.

As an expert witness in July 2012, defending a Mississippi law requiring that abortion providers be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and that they maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital, Anderson argued (as he did in North Dakota):

I have worked in local Emergency Rooms across Virginia for over thirty years. When women have come to the Emergency Room with complications related to an abortion, never once have I received a phone call initiated by the provider conveying information about the abortion, the young woman’s condition or potential complications. I have always had to evaluate the situation, come to my own conclusions and initiate what I thought was appropriate treatment. This definitely created some time delays that were not in the patient’s best interest. I have called many abortion clinic physicians but never once has the provider come the Emergency Room to assume care. I have always had to call a staff physician. This then creates another delay since the staff physician is taking care of his/her own patients but now must change his/her schedule to assume the care of someone else’s patient. These delays can have life-threatening implications when dealing with hemorrhage or infection.

Anderson also testified:

If a physician cannot obtain privileges for the specific requested procedures at his or her local hospital, then in my expert opinion, the physician is not qualified to do the surgical procedures that have life-changing or life-threatening impact.

Mississippi’s clinic was unable to fully comply with the law because the nearby hospitals denied privileges to the clinic’s providers; still, a Fifth Circuit judge struck down the law as unconstitutional because it would have had the effect of making abortion inaccessible in the state.

In his Mississippi testimony, Anderson made sweeping claims containing many assumptions and generalizations about what women writ large would do when faced with health-care decisions.

“The court was struck by the flimsiness of Anderson’s basis for reliance on Rue and by his failure to obtain basic information about the affiliations, credentials, or employment of the consultant whose report he submitted as his own.”—Judge Myron H. Thompson in Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., et al., v. Luther Strange, in an October 2014 supplemental opinion

“If a woman knows her physician does not practice at a local hospital, then she is faced at that moment with having to change physicians and possibly have to wait in a crowded Emergency Room to see a doctor she has never met,” he said. “If she knows her physician does not practice at the hospital, she will likely put off going to the hospital as long as possible.”

Anderson’s statements were cited as footnotes to the state’s assertion that the Mississippi laws were justified to protect women. In a July 2012 legal brief, Mississippi Special Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bryant cited quotes from Anderson given in a declaration submitted for the court, wherein he argued that the admitting privileges and OB-GYN requirements were beneficial to protecting the health and safety of women. Bryant also cited Anderson’s declaration in reference to a claim that there is no evidence plaintiffs would be unable to comply with the law.

Discredited

Anderson was chastised by a federal judge while testifying on behalf of a sweeping Texas law that has resulted in many clinic closures across the state. Anderson admitted that his declaration was “wordsmithed” by serial anti-abortion legal consultant Vincent Rue, who has himself been discredited.

As the Austin Chronicle reported, “When questioned about Rue’s influence on his testimony, Anderson downplayed the degree of involvement, saying the legal draft was a ‘team effort’ and ‘a collaboration.’ Anderson said Rue provided sources for his testimony, including material from the Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-choice group. When asked about the group’s ideological motivations, Anderson conceded the source ‘risks bias, but still validates the need for the law.’”

$16,350 The Alabama Office of the Attorney General paid Anderson between 2013 and 2014, according to the state’s online expenditure records, to testify in defense of the state’s admitting privileges law.

$17,224 The Alaska Department of Law paid Anderson for expert witness services in 2011 and 2012 to defend parental notification requirements in Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest v. State of Alaska. Pursuant to the state’s contract with Anderson—obtained by Rewire through a public records request—the state agreed to pay Anderson “a daily rate of $3,500 for authorized deposition or trial testimony in this matter and an hourly rate of $300 for all other authorized work performed in this matter,” as well as “reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in performing the Contract, including travel expenses.” His contract was not to exceed $20,000.

$6,750 The North Dakota Office of the Attorney General paid Anderson between January 2011 and September 2014 to serve as an expert witness to defend anti-abortion litigation.

$24,106 The Texas Office of the Attorney General paid Anderson for work performed in 2014 and assigned for 2015. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts coded these payments as “other witness fees.”

$4,200 The Wisconsin Department of Justice paid Anderson in 2013 and 2014 for his expert witness testimony defending the state’s admitting privilege’s law.

Anderson told Rewire that he wrote “my whole reports.” He said in the example of the Texas case, “wordsmithing” referred to “grammar and spelling.”

“I think when people can’t address the issue, then they try to attack your integrity,” Anderson said in a phone interview. “And I think that’s why everybody is trying to make it a big deal that I didn’t write my report or somebody didn’t write their report. … Vince Rue is just an employee of the different states. I enjoyed working with him. But I wrote the reports.”

“I think the admitting privileges is protective of women,” he added. “There are so many physicians that have been ill-trained or haven’t had enough training to do safe, competent abortions. And the scrutiny of the medical admitting privileging process is very protective of women.”

Anderson’s testimony has also been discounted by the Alabama Federal District Court, which cast doubt not only on his accuracy but on his honesty, as well.

In an opinion from August 2014 in Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., et al., v. Luther Strange, Judge Myron H. Thompson wrote:

“Drs. [John] Thorp and [James] Anderson each opined that proper care for even the simplest complication would require detailed knowledge about the patient’s history, reproductive goals, and other information. However, the court discredits Dr. Anderson’s testimony on this point due to concerns about his judgment or honesty as described in the forthcoming supplemental opinion.”

In late October, Thompson issued a supplemental opinion detailing how the court determined whether or not to throw out parts of expert witness testimony.

In this opinion, Thompson explained that the court admitted most of Anderson’s testimony but said “the court did not find his opinions credible,” primarily because Anderson had testified that a supplemental report he signed had been drafted by Vincent Rue and that he had not verified the content in the report. Anderson had also testified that he knew little of Rue’s background.

“Anderson’s court testimony about the supplemental report raised serious questions about his credibility,” Thompson wrote. “It became apparent that Rue’s involvement in drafting this supplemental report reached beyond the typical involvement of an attorney or litigation consultant in helping an expert put his opinions into words or providing background research. Anderson presented the supplemental report as his own work by virtue of his signature at the bottom.”

“The court was struck by the flimsiness of Anderson’s basis for reliance on Rue and by his failure to obtain basic information about the affiliations, credentials, or employment of the consultant whose report he submitted as his own,” Thompson continued. “[E]ither he has extremely impaired judgment; he lied to the court as to his familiarity with Rue; or he is so biased against abortion that he would endorse any opinion that supports increased regulation on abortion providers. Any of these explanations severely undermines Anderson’s credibility as an expert witness.”

In Alaska’s 2003 lawsuit involving a parental involvement statute, plaintiff Planned Parenthood of Alaska argued that Anderson’s delivered testimony “carries very little weight in assessing the safety of abortion in Alaska. He has not treated minors for the past 9 years, and his experience is limited to Virginia.  … Dr. Anderson informs patients of his personal preference for them to carry to term … and, despite his belief that parents should be involved in pregnancy-related care, contraception, and STD treatment, has actively campaigned only for a parental involvement for abortion. … Dr. Anderson further believes that parents refusing consent for abortion would be a positive effect of the act.”

False Witnesses was reported and written by Sharona Coutts and Sofia Resnick, with research assistance from Zoe Greenberg and Brie Shea.