Minnesota Gov. Criticized for Allowing Abortion-Breast Cancer Change

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Minnesota Gov. Criticized for Allowing Abortion-Breast Cancer Change

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
January 15, 2004

St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life groups are voicing their criticism of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision to change the way the Department of Health explains the Abortion-Breast Cancer (ABC) link on its website.

"The coalition deplores efforts by Planned Parenthood and the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) to pressure Pawlenty to conceal the overwhelming evidence supporting abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer," said a statement from the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

"These groups are following the tobacco industry’s playbook," said Karen Malec, the group’s president. "Human life is of no importance to them. They care only for one thing — abortion industry profits. They’re petrified because the nation’s first ABC malpractice lawsuit was settled late last year."

"We are extremely disappointed that the governor has broken under pressure from radical pro-abortion forces," stated Leo LaLonde, president of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.  "Women need to be empowered with factual information that is scientifically correct and medically accurate, but now the state Woman’s Right to Know Web site and brochure will confuse women with pro-abortion rhetoric."

Previously, the site and pamphlet stated, "Findings from some studies suggest there is an increased risk of breast cancer among women who had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggest there is no increased risk. This issue may need further study."

Dr. Robert Meiches, head of the Minnesota Medical Association, said the statements, while not exactly inaccurate, are misleading and confusing to women. He expressed his concerns that the statements "threaten to erode the department’s credibility and fail to provide women with the information they need to make an informed decision about abortion," in a letter dated December 9, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

After Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach met with the MMA over the association’s complaint, the statement that "This issue may need further study," was removed, and replaced with a statement of the National Cancer Institute’s position, and two links to the lone organization’s conclusions:

 "In March 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a consensus report finding no link between abortion and breast cancer. A summary of this report may be reviewed at https://cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ere-workshop-report. A minority report disagreeing with the findings of the NCI report was also released in March 2003. A summary of this report may also be found at https://cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ere-workshop-report."

"The handbook mentions a minority report from an unnamed scientist who disagreed with the NCI, but that report isn’t published on the NCI Web site. This eliminates the possibility that women wanting to read the dissenting opinion could ever find it," points out the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer’s statement. "The MMA falsely told Pawlenty that agreement exists in the medical community that abortion doesn’t increase risk. In fact, six medical groups recognize the significance of the research."

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, Catholic Medical Association, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Polycarp Research Institute, and the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute have all acknowledged a link between abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer.

Abortion advocates point to the National Cancer Institute as the leading source for information, though it solely cites studies that did not find a link.

Meanwhile, the department is plagued with some staff members who are failing to follow Mandernach or Pawlenty.

Mary Manning, the MN Health Department’s director of health promotion and chronic diseases, cited NCI when she emailed her staff to tell callers that there was no abortion-breast cancer link, despite the conflicting studies and the Department’s website.

Additionally, the statement regarding when a child first feels pain was altered, from the original, "Some experts have concluded the unborn child feels physical pain after 20 weeks gestation," to the new statement, "Some experts have concluded the unborn child feels physical pain after 20 weeks gestation. Other experts have concluded pain is felt later in gestational development. This issue may need further study."

Pro-life groups say the department ought to follow the will of the legislature.

"On many different issues, such as the link between breast cancer and abortion, fetal pain and others, there were specific votes taken by the legislature," Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, told LifeNews.com. "We find it interesting that now, after the information is being provided, it is being criticized by the same people who opposed any information being afforded to the women."

"Not only did they object to the current language, the objected to any information to empower the woman," Fischbach added.

The web site and the pamphlet were developed by the Health Department to comply with a new "Right to Know" law requiring the department to publish information about abortion risks and abortion alternatives for women considering abortion.

Similar laws in other states have reduced the abortion rate by as much as one-third.

Related web sites:
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life – https://www.mccl.org
Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer – https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com