Women seeking abortion must be told that it can cause breast cancer. Except that this is not the case:
Results from major prospective studies
The largest, and probably the most reliable, study on this topic was done during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In this study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (a total of 1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. All of the information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries – it was very complete and was not influenced by recall bias.
After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer. The size of this study and the manner in which it was done provide good evidence that induced abortion does not affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Another large, prospective study was reported on by Harvard researchers in 2007. This study included more than 100,000 women who were between the ages of 29 and 46 at the start of the study in 1993. These women were followed until 2003.
Again, because they were asked about childbirths and abortions at the start of the study, recall bias was unlikely to be a problem. After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found no link between either spontaneous or induced abortions and breast cancer.
The California Teachers Study also reported on more than 100,000 women in 2008. Researchers asked the women in 1995 about past induced and spontaneous abortions. While the women were being followed in the study, more than 3,300 developed invasive breast cancer. There was no difference in breast cancer risk between the group who had either spontaneous or induced abortions and those who had not had an abortion.
What do the experts say?
In February 2003, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) held a workshop of more than 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. The experts reviewed human and animal studies that looked at the link between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. Some of their findings were:
• Breast cancer risk is increased for a short time after a full-term pregnancy (that is, a pregnancy that results in the birth of a living child).
• Induced abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.
• Spontaneous abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.
The level of scientific evidence for these findings was considered to be “well established” (the highest level).
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Gynecologic Practice also reviewed the available evidence in 2003 and again in 2009. ACOG published its most recent findings in June 2009. At that time, the Committee said, “Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed. More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.”
The interesting ethical point here (for those of us who regard women as more than aquariums) is that the bill Kansas House passed requires the health care provider to lie to women, presumably in the interest of the higher goal which is to reduce the number of abortions by scaring women.
What is most ironical about the actual evidence is the fact that it is a full-term pregnancy which might increase the risk of breast cancer!
The Kansas bill also argues for the rights of all egg-Americans, stating that life begins at fertilization.
What that does to all the frozen embryos in fertility clinics is unclear (of course always thinking about the time after Roe v. Wade is overturned, because until then many of the restrictions are just political maneuvers).
But North Dakota decided to be utterly two-faced in its new draconian abortion law:
North Dakota lawmakers who approved what would be some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S. are now considering outlawing all abortions.
The "personhood" measures would ban abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. It's drawing opposition from some doctors who say it could cause problems for infertile couples seeking to use in vitro fertilization to conceive, but supporters insist that's addressed in the legislation.
The state Senate passed two personhood measures last month, and the House could vote as soon as Tuesday. One of the bills would make the proposal a state law and another is a resolution that would put the definition into the state constitution, if passed by voters.
North Dakota is one of several states with Republican-controlled Legislatures and GOP governors that is looking at abortion restrictions, but the state is could go further than any other in challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
Last week, the Legislature sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple what would be two of the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S., banning abortions as early as six weeks in a pregnancy and on the basis of genetic defects such as Down syndrome. North Dakota also would be the first to adopt a personhood law if that measure passes. Abortion-rights activists have vowed to fight the measures in court.
One of the key players in the anti-abortion campaign, state Sen. Margaret Sitte, a Republican from Bismarck, said she was "floored" by the assertions about limitations on in vitro fertilization. She said the proposals allow exceptions for the "screening, collecting, preparing, transferring, or cryopreserving a human being created through in vitro fertilization for the purpose of being transferred to a human uterus." Sitte said that clause was crafted with Dahl's help.
However, rape does not justify such exemptions:
North Dakota lawmakers are considering several bills this session that would restrict abortion. Dahl said that the legislation would ultimately impact medical care to women and families and allow no exceptions for rape or incest.So it goes.
"A woman who has been sexually assaulted will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, regardless of the nature of her assault," she said.
Sitte said she doesn't think women should abort pregnancies resulting from rape.
"Rape is a horrible crime. It is absolutely devastating," Sitte said. "But do we believe in capital punishment for those children?"