Associated Press Abortion-Breast Cancer Article Criticized for Errors, Bias

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Associated Press Abortion-Breast Cancer Article Criticized for Errors, Bias Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 11, 2004

Washington, DC ( — An Associated Press reporter who wrote an article declaring that the abortion-breast cancer link is nonexistent is coming under fire from women’s groups and doctors who say that the article reflects an inappropriate bias.

In her news story, "Women Wrongly Warned Cancer, Abortion Tied," AP writer Laura Meckler leads off by saying women in states with laws requiring information to be given to them about abortion’s risks and alternatives, "aren’t told that scientific reviews have concluded there is no such risk" of a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Meckler cites a Planned Parenthood medical director who blasts studies showing the link exists and then notes a political decision by the National Cancer Institute that declared no link exists and silenced attempts by a minority group of scientists and researchers to show otherwise.

Karen Malec, director of a women’s group that disseminates information about the link, was quoted in the AP article. However, she says Meckler failed to present the whole truth.

First, the National Cancer Institute is "at war with itself," Malec says.

"It acknowledged that breast cancer risk decreases with increased childbearing, starting at an early age, and increased duration of breastfeeding," Malec explained.

According to Malec, "The NCI denied that abortion leaves women with an increase in cancer-vulnerable breast lobules, although the vast majority of the epidemiological studies, biological and experimental evidence, and a plausible biological explanation support abortion as an
independent risk factor for the disease."

Meckler’s AP article then points to a very questionable study that Meckler says confirms the abortion-breast cancer link is a fallacy.

"A scientific review in the Lancet, a British medical journal, came to the same conclusion, questioning the methodology in a few studies that have suggested a link," Meckler wrote.

However, Malec says the Lancet study, which attempted to present an overview of research on the topic, is worthless in part because British scientists threw out 15 published, peer-reviewed studies confirming an 80 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer from induced abortions simply because they had problems getting ahold of researchers for interviews about the surveys.

"Then they added 28 never-published, never-peer-reviewed studies to their review," Malec says.

Those less-than-credible studies, some of which were conducted with women who never had abortions, constituted the glut of the Lancet overview.

Malec says the AP writer asked her for copies of some of the top studies confirming the abortion-breast cancer link exists. She says she faxed the reporter abstracts of 20 studies just one hour after the request.

The Associated Press article, released hours later, never mentions them.

Despite the failure of the AP story to discuss credible studies that confirm the abortion-breast cancer link, a representative of a doctors group told Family News in Focus that such a link definitely exists.

"There is a preponderance of evidence that one abortion doubles the chance of breast cancer and that risk rises even further in subsequent abortions," Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association says.

Malec says there is a political motivation to write articles that disparage the breast cancer-abortion link.

"Telling women the truth about the ABC link is politically explosive. It isn’t good for political careers — especially those who campaign on abortion rights — and it isn’t good for feminists’ breast cancer fundraising businesses," Malec explained.