Minnesota Web Site Removes Abortion-Breast Cancer Link Information
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 15, 2004
St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — The Minnesota state Health Department has removed language on its women’s right to know website that had told of the abortion-breast cancer link, following opposition from some medical groups and abortion advocates.
The site, which had earlier given equal weight to studies that confirmed or denied a link, and suggested that the issue needed further study, now reads:
“Findings from earlier studies suggested there was an increased risk of breast cancer among women who had an abortion. In March 2003 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a consensus report finding no link between abortion and breast cancer. An additional report issued in March 2004 by a cancer research group at Oxford University also indicated there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.”
But pro-life groups say the NCI has been a victim of intense political lobbying and the Oxford study relies on faulty data.
“This change is a disservice to the women of Minnesota who deserve to have a right to know all of the information possible about the link between abortion and breast cancer,” Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. “The MN Health Department has been controlled by radical pro-abortionist for many, many years. It is not ironic that this action was taken by the Health Department exactly one year to the day that the Governor signed the legislation into law."
When the language supporting the abortion-breast cancer link was weakened in January, pro-life advocates had also voiced their concerns:
"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."
While asbestos and mesothelioma cancer receive considerable attention, the abortion-breast cancer link is still a largely unknown consequence of abortion.
But many medical groups say an abortion-breast cancer link exists and that women ought to be informed about it.
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.
Dr. Robert Meiches, head of the Minnesota Medical Association, claimed the earlier 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.
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.
The Oxford University study cited in the new language is among a few that have denounced the abortion-breast cancer link. However, Oxford did not conduct an actual study but simply reviewed other studies that had been conducted previously, and discounted some results because they assumed women who had breast cancer were less likely to lie about prior abortions than healthy women.
Professor Jack Scarisbrick, Chairman of LIFE, a U.K. pro-life group, said, "The evidence that induced abortion is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly when the pregnancy is a first one and where there is a family history of the disease, is overwhelming, despite this latest paper. Twenty-eight out of the 37 studies worldwide into the abortion/breast cancer link (ABC link) show that the procedure increases a woman’s chance of contracting breast cancer later in life."
Pro-life groups say the department ought to follow the will of the legislature.
"The spirit of the Woman’s Right to Know law is to inform women of all the facts about abortion risks, complications and alternatives before they make their decision whether to undergo the abortion procedure," Fischbach said. "The pro-abortion operatives in the Minnesota Department of Health have never supported the law. Extremists within the department have spent the last year trying to dismantle the Woman’s Right to Know law’s abortion/breast cancer information, instead of helping women understand the substantial risks that abortions could pose to their health."
Even before the language changes, the department is plagued with some staff members who are failing to follow Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach or Governor Tim Pawlenty, who had drafted the original language.
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 current statement on the website.
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.