Abortion Typically Unnecessary When Cancer Strikes a Pregnant Mother

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Typically Unnecessary When Cancer Strikes a Pregnant Mother Email this article
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by Dr. Joel Brind
December 9, 2007

LifeNews.com Note: Joel Brind, Ph.D., is the president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College in New York.

On Nov. 28, when LifeNews.com relayed the heart-warming story from an ABC News story about "new research helping pregnant moms who suffer from cancer to avoid having an abortion," most readers probably thought this was great news indeed.

"My doctor basically said it was me or the baby," Sanchez (the mother) told ABC News, and she wasn’t lying.

The question that drove me nuts was: "Why on earth is this still news!"

You see, the amazing discovery that it is actually better for women diagnosed with cancer while pregnant (called gestational cancer) to carry the pregnancy to term is hardly news. It wasn’t even news last year or twenty years ago. About 70 years ago, it was news.

Sadly, the abortion culture had infiltrated the fabric of the practice of medicine long before Roe v. Wade. And it was perfectly legal to have an abortion, provided, of course, that a doctor decided that a woman "needed" an abortion. That’s why they call it "therapeutic abortion."

Up north, the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto has been accumulating case histories since 1931, and publishing the results every several years. The most recent paper, authored by Drs. R.M. Clark and T. Chua15, and published in 1989, reported on the fate of 154 patients with gestational breast cancer.

In such cases, the cancer is usually discovered at an advanced stage (since symptoms are masked by the pregnancy), and the prognosis is generally poor. Thus only 20 percent of the Princess Margaret patients who carried their pregnancies to term were alive 20 years later. But strikingly, all 21 patients who had undergone "therapeutic abortion" were dead within eleven years!

As far back as 1976, French Dr. P. Juret, in his review of the literature up to up to that year, was already quite definitive: "the total inefficacy of therapeutic abortion is now certain." This was echoed by Dr. K.W. Schweppe et al. in their 1980 German review of the worldwide literature: "There is no medical indication for an abortion."

Meanwhile, every few years, the same story makes headlines here in the US, and it’s always touted as big news. So this year, the story of Linda Sanchez at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas made ABC news.

But over a decade ago, Dr. David Berry of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas made news when he reported his own results to the International Congress on Breast Diseases. Over the previous 7 years, Dr. Berry had treated 22 pregnant breast cancer patients with chemotherapy. Five out of 7 treated more than 5 years prior were still alive after 5 years, a better survival rate than non-pregnant women with the same advanced disease usually have.

So the question as to why doctors continue to recommend "therapeutic abortion" still persists. This question was probably most accurately answered by Kaiser-Permanente surgeon Dr. Philip Nugent and colleagues in 1985: "Termination of pregnancy we would recommend in these (advanced cancer) groups, not because of the effect of the pregnancy on the breast cancer, but rather the detrimental effect the chemotherapy (or radiation therapy) may have on the fetus."

This widely prevalent line of thinking raises even an even more troubling question, to wit: How can medical practice in a civilized society countenance the oxymoronic use of the word "therapeutic," i.e., in the context of killing a fetus for its own good?

But as bizarre as this thinking is, even more strange is its persistence in light of a long history of healthy babies being born to women with gestational cancer despite chemotherapy. For example, all 22 babies born to Dr. Berry’s patients at Baylor were just fine.

Almost 40 years ago, a review of American data by Nicholson, documented fetal outcome in 123 pregnancies in which chemotherapy had been given. In the 58 cases in which such therapy was given in the second or third trimester, all the babies were born normal. In the 55 cases in which chemotherapy (other than with certain chemotherapeutic agents, like methotrexate) was given in the first trimester, only 4 babies were born with any abnormalities.

One wonders when the standards of clinical practice will be updated to reflect the certainty of the uselessness of "therapeutic abortion" that is so clearly reflected in the medical literature. It was, after all, over 30 years ago that Dr. William Donegan of the Medical College of Wisconsin, in reference to the proven futility of "therapeutic abortion," passed on the then 15-year-old advice of Byrd et al. "that rather than concentrating on terminating the pregnancy, physicians should direct their efforts toward terminating the cancer."

This advice would be good to keep in mind, next time saving both mother and child is dressed up as news.

But it would also be good to keep this in mind whenever the "life of the mother exception" comes up. Not only does this claim represent a very small fraction of abortion decisions, but it’s generally a bogus claim anyway.

Abortion terminates lives; it doesn’t save them.