Daily Iowan Paper Implies Catholic Doctors Uninformed on Abortion-Breast Cancer

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Daily Iowan Paper Implies Catholic Doctors Uninformed on Abortion-Breast Cancer

by Karen Malec
December 3, 2009

LifeNews.com Note: Karen Malec is the president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

On two occasions early in November, The Daily Iowan’s opinion editor, Shawn Gude, invited a reader by the name of Rebecca Curtis to send him a 600-word rebuttal in response to a guest opinion written by University of Iowa law students, Amber Fricke and Amy Hirst, on October 27, 2009 that incorrectly stated that abortion does not increase breast cancer risk. [1]

Curtis sent The Daily Iowan a rebuttal, but Gude rejected it on November 5 and invited her to re-write it. She quickly responded by sending him a revised rebuttal, but on November 9, he rejected that too. Gude explained to Curtis, "While I appreciate your submission, I remain skeptical of some of your sources."

Gude objected that Curtis had cited research published in The Linacre Quarterly, a publication of the Catholic Medical Association, and the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, a publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, even though both publications are peer-reviewed medical journals and the authors of the research papers in question are esteemed, international experts on the abortion-breast cancer link. [8,9] (The term "peer-reviewed" means that the scientific papers have been evaluated by an impartial panel of experts who recommend the papers for publication or rejection.)

It appears that Gude and other editors had held Curtis’ commentary to a higher standard of scrutiny than the commentary by Fricke and Hirst. The editors permitted Fricke and Hirst to cite the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, as well as two studies that have been proven in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons to be fatally flawed. [2,3,4,5] Fricke and Hirst, who are members of the euphemistically named University of Iowa Law Students for Reproductive Justice, also cited the American Cancer Society’s web page, "Is Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer?" [6]

Had the editors at the paper conducted a 5-minute search on PubMed, they would have learned that one of Fricke and Hirst’s citations, a study named Melbye et al. 1997, actually reported a statistically significant 89% risk increase for women who have abortions after 18 weeks gestation, although researchers found no overall increase in risk. [2] (The American Cancer Society insults women’s intelligence by using this study to deny an abortion-breast cancer link.)

Furthermore, Melbye’s team found a dose effect of 3% per week of gestation until the abortion takes place, thereby fulfilling one of the criteria needed for establishing a cause-effect relationship. In other words, the longer a pregnant woman is exposed to the cancer-causing effects of an elevated estrogen level before her abortion takes place, the greater her breast cancer risk is (provided the abortion occurs before 32 weeks gestation). The breasts grow during a normal pregnancy because estrogen stimulates the mother’s cancer-susceptible lobules to multiply. The longer she is pregnant before her abortion takes place, the more places she grows for cancers to start.

Breast cancer risk plunges at 32 weeks and continues to plunge for each week thereafter until delivery at 40 weeks, as the fetus produces hormones that mature an increasing number of the mother’s breast lobules into permanently cancer-resistant lobules. [7,8] By 40 weeks, 85% of the lobules are permanently cancer-resistant. Then, the mother is left with fewer places in her breasts for cancers to start. (That explains why full term pregnancy is protective against breast cancer.)

If The Daily Iowan’s editors had conducted a PubMed search, they would have discovered a 1999 study by Melbye’s team reporting that premature birth before 32 weeks gestation more than doubles breast cancer risk (a finding that supports an independent link between abortion and breast cancer). [7] Early premature birth, like abortion, is a short pregnancy exposing the mother’s cancer-susceptible breast lobules to virtually the same pregnancy hormones, which result in the same structural changes and leave her with more places for breast cancers to start.

Instead of considering the scientific evidence on how the breasts develop and function that had been presented in the journal,The Linacre Quarterly, Gude and his colleagues decided to shoot its messengers. [8] Gude wrote to Curtis that he was "uneasy" about the use of a source from The Linacre Quarterly, which "exists to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith and morality as related to the science and practice of medicine."

What was Gude implying? That Catholic doctors can’t do science? That they bend science to fit their religious beliefs? The implication is that Catholic doctors are incapable of objectivity when it comes to scientific research on abortion, unlike doctors of other faiths and atheists and agnostics (none of whom could possibly be biased in favor of abortion). If Gude had dared to imply that a Jewish medical journal was not credible because it exists to uphold the Jewish faith in the science and practice of medicine, consider the outrage that would follow.

Bias is not exclusively a one-way street that occurs only in the pro-life camp, but when bias goes the opposite way, in the direction of the pro-abortion camp, abortion enthusiasts in the media are indifferent, even if that bias endangers women’s lives. For example, although cancer experts universally consider childbearing to be protective against breast cancer and an independent link between abortion and breast cancer has been studied for 53 years, cancer fundraising groups, like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer Action and the National Breast Cancer Coalition, have included radicals among their leaders who had previously been associated with Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union. Why would it be in their interest to educate women about the three ways that abortion raises breast cancer risk?

Dr. Leslie Bernstein’s bias in favor of abortion is overt, but no one would ever dream of insulting her by associating her religious faith (or lack of faith) with the way she has conducted herself as a scientist. Bernstein was a leader/moderator at the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s phony workshop on the abortion-breast cancer link in 2003. After that workshop, she told CancerPage.com why she doesn’t want women to know that abortion raises breast cancer risk. Note that she acknowledged that the younger a woman is when she has her first birth, the lower her breast cancer risk is. (It can’t be denied that abortion is used to delay first full term pregnancies.) Bernstein said:

"The biggest bang for the buck is the first birth, and the younger you are, the better off you are. I would never be a proponent of going around and telling them that having babies is the way to reduce your risk…. I don’t want the issue relating to induced abortion to breast cancer risk to be part of the mix of the discussion of induced abortion, its legality, its continued availability." [10]

Imagine the howls among abortion enthusiasts in the media if a reverse scenario had taken place. Pretend that Bernstein had been anti-abortion and had said she didn’t want women to know there were health benefits associated with having an abortion (not that there really are health benefits). There would be no end to the doleful wailing among those members of the press, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute would resemble the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution in 1789.

After hearing that The Daily Iowan’s opinion editor had objected to a citation from The Linacre Quarterly, one physician declared that if the facts presented in that journal had been published on a bathroom wall, on parchment, on toilet paper or in the National Enquirer, they would still remain biological facts. If The Daily Iowan’s editors had bothered to review the secondary references listed at the end of the article in The Linacre Quarterly, they would have found studies published in medical journals with politically correct names, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, British Journal of Cancer, and Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. [8]

Gude also objected that Curtis used the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons as a source. [9] He told Curtis that the Journal is "a political non-profit" (a description that could be applied to the American Medical Association); and he criticized the Journal for publishing articles that challenged scientific hypotheses concerning global warming and HIV/AIDS. He claimed,

"It has also published reports claiming ‘increases in (atmospheric carbon dioxide) during the 20th and 21st centuries have produced no deleterious effects upon Earth’s weather and climate’ and that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS."

Gude said both the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization deny the abortion-breast cancer link. If Gude had been an opinion editor during the 1930’s, would he have also rejected a commentary discussing Einstein’s theory of relativity because 100 scientists had written essays disparaging it?

Jane Orient, MD, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, commented on Gude’s arguments. She wrote:

"How can one respond to this kind of attack? It is not a good faith assessment. But one might say:

"The validity of a scientific paper should be assessed by reading it, not by skimming the table of contents of the journal that published it.

"The Daily Iowan assumes the truth of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, which is based solely on UN computer models, the predictions of which are refuted by actual observations. Around 32,000 American scientists are on the record as agreeing with the statement that The Daily Iowan quotes.

"The Daily Iowan assumes the truth of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis; the Journal has published a couple of articles pointing to difficulties with it. All scientific hypotheses are subject to efforts to disprove them; that is the nature of science.

"Apparently, the fact that WHO (World Health Organization), a heavily politicized international agency, questioned the abortion-breast cancer link tells The Daily Iowan it must be not worth looking at.

"This is apparently the reasoning process used by The Daily Iowan:

"A peer-reviewed scientific journal’s publication of articles criticizing politically correct theories means everything in the the Journal is worthless.

"A political agency’s criticism of a politically incorrect hypothesis about an ABC (abortion-breast cancer) link means that all the evidence for an ABC link is worthless.

"What conclusions can one reach about the critical thinking skills, the scientific understanding, or the journalistic standards of The Daily Iowan?"

Breast cancer is an extremely common disease, and abortion is a common, elective procedure. Under these circumstances, what possible right do journalists have to commit journalistic malpractice by ignoring the opinion of eight medical organizations that acknowledge that abortion raises breast cancer risk, independently of the recognized breast cancer risk of abortion – the loss of the protective effect of childbearing?

Consequently, the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is presenting the The Daily Iowan’s editors with two easy challenges that will help them cast light on the cancer fundraising industry’s truthfulness.

First, no expert has ever challenged or even attempted to refute the biological basis for the link presented in The Linacre Quarterly or anywhere else, for that matter. If the editors have a sincere desire to protect women’s health, then why not ask the American Cancer Society, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to review Dr. Angela Lanfranchi’s paper in The Linacre Quarterly and identify any errors? Why not challenge them to refute the biological reasons for the abortion-breast cancer link? Cancer groups won’t do it because Lanfranchi’s presentation is physiologically correct.

Second, since medical texts acknowledge that childlessness, delayed first full term pregnancy and small family size raise breast cancer risk, the editors should ask the cancer fundraising industry two simple questions with two obvious answers. If a woman aborts all of her pregnancies, will she be childless? Also, who has the greater breast cancer risk – the 15-year-old who has an abortion or the one who has a full term pregnancy? The second question has to do with the recognized breast cancer risk of abortion – the loss of the protective effect of childbearing.

Even Dr. Lynn Rosenberg (Boston Medical School), an expert witness for Florida abortion providers in 1999 was forced to set aside the cancer establishment’s intellectual dishonesty when she testified under oath as an expert witness for the Center for Reproductive Rights in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s parental notification law. Preferring not to perjure herself by pretending that abortion that abortion does not cause women to delay their first full term pregnancies, she said she agreed with this statement:

"A woman who finds herself pregnant at age 15 will have a higher breast cancer risk if she chooses to abort that pregnancy than if she carries the pregnancy to term, correct?" [11]

Breast cancer increases with age at first full term pregnancy. A delayed first full term pregnancy lengthens the period between puberty and first full term pregnancy (the "susceptibility window") when nearly all of the breast lobules are immature and cancer-susceptible and exposed to the cancer-causing effects of estrogen increases during monthly menstrual cycles, resulting in an accumulation of the effects of cancer-causing substances.

Since the loss of the protective effect of childbearing is considered settled science, most studies on the abortion-breast cancer link do not compare the effect of having an abortion with the effect of having a full term pregnancy. Rather, most studies compare the effect of having an abortion with the effect of not having had that pregnancy (thereby addressing the question of an independent link – whether abortion further raises risk by leaving the breasts with more places for cancers to start).

Certainly, it would be bad social policy to encourage unmarried teens and young women to have babies. However, Professor Joel Brind from Baruch College, City University of New York, has rightly argued that the already-pregnant woman has only two realistic choices. Either she aborts, or she has a baby. She doesn’t have the choice of never having had that pregnancy. Her doctor is ethically and legally obligated to obtain informed consent from her before performing an abortion. That means telling her that experts agree if she chooses an abortion, her risk of developing breast cancer will be greater than it will be if she chooses to have a baby(because she is delaying her first full term pregnancy). The woman may be able to sue her doctor for medical malpractice if he fails to provide her with this minimal information (as five women have successfully sued their doctors who failed to warn them about the risks of breast cancer and emotional harm). [12]

It takes a special kind of cruelty to cover up a risk that has caused 1.5 million Americans to develop breast cancer and 300,000 deaths since 1973 (based on 50 million abortions, a 30% increased risk of breast cancer for women with abortions, and a 10% lifetime risk for the average American woman without abortion).

The American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other cancer groups could have done a great deal of good by telling women the truth about the abortion-breast cancer link. Instead, they use studies that have been proven in medical journals to be significantly flawed (even fraudulent) to make their argument that abortion does not raise breast cancer risk. [13-22]

They didn’t tell women the truth about the risks of using the pill and combined hormone replacement therapy, although the data were available in the 1980s. Now they’re not telling women the truth about the abortion-breast cancer link. Biased members of the media are their enablers.


1. "Recent DI advertising supplement strikingly inaccurate," By Amber Fricke and Amy Hirst, The Daily Iowan, October 27, 2009. Available at: https://www.dailyiowan.com/2009/10/27/Opinions/13910.html?dsq=21109498#disqus_thread

2. Melbye M, Wohlfahrt J, Olson JH, Frisch M, Westergaard T, Helweg-Larsen K, Andersen PK. Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1997;336:81-85.

3. Michels K, Xue Fei, Colditz G., Willett W. Induced and Spontaneous Abortion and Incidence of Breast Cancer Among Young Women. Arch Int Med 2007;167:814-820.

4. Brind J, Chinchilli VM. Letter. Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1997;336:1834-1835.

5. Brind J. Induced abortion and breast cancer: A critical analysis of the report of the Harvard Nurses Study II. J Am Phys Surg 2007;12(2)38-39. Available at: <https://www.jpands.org/vol12no2/brind.pdf>.

6. "Is abortion linked to breast cancer?" American Cancer Society web page. Visited November 24, 2009. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_Can_Having_an_Abortion_Cause_or_Contribute_to_Breast_Cancer.asp?sitearea=.

7. Melbye M, Wohlfahrt J, Andersen A-M N, Westergaard T, Andersen PK. Preterm delivery and risk of breast cancer. Bri J Cancer 1999;80:609-13.

8. Lanfranchi, A. Normal breast physiology: The reasons hormonal contraceptives and induced abortion increase breast cancer risk. The Linacre Quarterly 2009;76:236-249. Available at:https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/download/LQ_76_3_2_Lanfranchi.pdf

9. Brind J. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: A critical review of recent studies based on prospective data. J Am Phys Surg Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter 2005) 105-110. Available at: <https://www.jpands.org/vol10no4/brind.pdf>.

10. Lowe RM, NCI scientific panel concludes abortion has no impact on breast cancer risk. CancerPage.com, March 3, 2003. Available at:
<https://www.cancerpage.com/news/article.asp?id=5601>. Accessed November 18, 2009.

11. Rosenberg (1999) NW FL Women’s Health vs. State of FL, FL Circuit Ct., 2nd circ., videotape deposition of 11/18/99, pp. 77-78. Available at: https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/rosenberg’s_testimony.htm

12. See the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer’s Legal Issues web page at: https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/Your_Rights.htm

13. Brind J. Breast cancer in relation to abortion: results from the EPIC study. Int J Cancer. 2008 Feb 15;122(4):960-1.

14. Brind J. California Teachers Study report on incomplete pregnancy is flawed. Contraception 2009;Mar;79(3):240.

15. Brind J. The abortion-breast cancer connection. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly Summer 2005; p. 303-329. Available at: <https://www.AbortionBreastCancer.com/Brind_NCBQ.PDF>.

16. Lanfranchi A. The abortion-breast cancer link revisited. Ethics and Medics (November 2004) Vol. 29, No. 11, p. 1-4. Available at:https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/news/041120/index.htm

17. Furton E. Editorial. The corruption of science by ideology. Ethics and Medics (Dec. 2004) Vol. 29, No. 11, p. 1-2. Available at: https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/E+MDec2004-EFurtonarticle.PDF

18. Schlafly A. Legal implications of a link between abortion and breast cancer. J Am Phys Surgeons2005;10:11-14. Available at:https://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/aschlafly.pdf

19. Lanfranchi A. The science, studies and sociology of the abortion-breast cancer link. Research Bulletin 2005;18:1-8. Available at: https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/June2005.pdf

20. Lanfranchi A. The breast physiology and the epidemiology of the abortion breast cancer link. Imago Hominis 2005;12(3): 228-236. https://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/Lanfranchi060201.pdf

21. Brind J. Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk: A Critical Analysis of the Report of the Harvard Nurses Study II. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons(Summer 2007) Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 38-39. Available at: <https://www.jpands.org/vol12no2/brind.pdf>.

22. Lanfranchi, A. The federal government and academic texts as barriers to informed consent. J Am Phys Surg (Spring 2008). Available at: <https://www.jpands.org/vol13no1/lanfranchi.pdf

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