No causal relationship between abortion and breast cancer has been scientifically established. Nevertheless, the anti-choice community continues to claim an association between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. Through propaganda, poorly designed and interpreted research studies, and misinformation, anti-choice groups attempt to dissuade women from choosing abortion by exploiting their fear of breast cancer.
In fact, in March of 2003 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) declared emphatically that "newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk." NCI convened a symposium of over 100 of the world's leading experts to review existing studies on the relationship between pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage and breast cancer risk and concluded that having an abortion does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.
And yet anti-choice groups continue to wage well-publicized campaigns to spread their misleading information. These groups were behind recent attempts to pressure the NCI to change its patient information on abortion and breast cancer. NCI ultimately realized the need to base policy decisions on science and not political pressure, but other agencies may not be so vigilant. Armed with data from flawed or inappropriately interpreted research studies, anti-choice forces are lobbying state legislators for laws that mandate discussion of an increased risk of breast cancer as a recognized risk of abortion.
Women deserve accurate information, not anti-choice scare tactics.
Read NAF's fact sheet on the Abortion and Breast Cancer Myth.
Anti-choice forces are even willing to intrude upon the doctor-patient relationship. Several states have enacted laws mandating the discussion of an increased risk of breast cancer as a risk of abortion. Such laws force doctors to choose between misleading their patients and obeying the law.
Breast cancer is a very important health concern for women, and discovering both the causes of and effective treatments for breast cancer is something that needs to be a top priority for further research. However, we know that politicizing scientific issues is dangerous to public health. More