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Hard truths about abortion


A new study will leave pro-choicers nervous: The more pregnancies that are terminated, the higher the woman's cancer risk becomes.


One in 10 new cancers worldwide is a female breast cancer.  And North American rates of breast cancer are the highest in the world.

While there is no magic bullet assuring prevention, epidemiological studies provide us with long-established odds-boosting factors:  Have children;  have many children;  start early.  But these guidelines do not sit well with current social and cultural norms.  Consequently, one rarely (ever?) sees mention of them in breast cancer awareness campaigns.

There is another, hotly-contested preventive strategy, the very mention of which raises hackles in prochoice circles:  Avoid induced abortion (IA).

In what has been described as a "real game changer" in breast cancer research, a new peer-reviewed study from China not only endorses the long-mooted link between IA and breast cancer, but concludes the risk rises with every abortion a woman has.  The study, "A metaanalysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females" was published last week in Cancer Causes and Control, an international cancer journal.

Historically Chinese women have enjoyed lower breast cancer rates than in North America, but are now experiencing an "alarming rate" of escalating incidence.  The study's researchers from the Tianjiin Medical University Cancer Hospital point to China's one-child program, which has seen 336 million babies aborted since the 1980s, as the culprit.  Their findings, described as a "dose-responsive relationship," pegged one IA to a 44% rise in risk of breast cancer, two IAs to 76% and three to 89%.

Research elsewhere supports the China study.  A study in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine in May found a six-fold greater risk of breast cancer among Indian women with a history of IA as compared to non-aborting women.  Commenting on these studies — which come from countries where the governments are abortion-friendly, and have no interest in promoting the linkage;  on the contrary, it is an embarrassment to them — University of New York endocrinologist Dr. Joel Brind identified their findings as "of the sort of magnitude that has typified the link between cigarettes and lung cancer."

I am not an abortion ideologue.  My beef has always been the lack of informed consent, the failure of abortion providers to volunteer IA's known risks to women and their future offspring to their clients.  Which is why I am pleased to recommend a newly-published book by the de Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social research, Complications: Abortion's impact on women.  The book's authors — Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy — are pro-life researchers, and the de Veber Institute is a pro-life institute.  That said, the text's homiletic strains are muted;  the book's objective claims, 10 years in development, are evidence-based, with most of its 650 footnotes leading to peer-reviewed academic research.

I am not an abortion ideologue.  My beef has always been the lack of informed consent, the failure of abortion providers to volunteer IA's known risks to women and their future offspring to their clients.

Amongst many other revelations, Complications effectively busts several abortion "myths."  One frequently hears, for example, that abortion is safer than giving birth.  According to four large-scale data linkage studies cited from the U.S., the U.K., Denmark and Finland, however, it appears the reverse is true;  IA causes significantly higher maternal mortality than childbirth.  Another myth is that women freely choose abortion.  These authors find that studies worldwide report a strong correlation between intimate partner violence and abortion, suggesting more abortions are submitted to under pressure or coercion than by free choice.

Soul-searching days lie ahead for ideologues invested in the notion that abortion is a minor, virtually risk-free procedure, without medical or psychological residue.  For many "progressives," the right to unfettered abortion is the quintessential symbol of women's liberation from the patriarchy.  Any constraint at all, even on a woman's confidence in aborting — whether or not it constitutes rational consideration of her own best interests — represents a defeat in the battle for gender equality.  But this absolutism was adopted in simpler scientific times, before DNA, ultrasounds and longitudinal epidemiological studies.  These scientific advances have altered the perceptions of many ordinary Canadians who had previously given little thought to the "blob of tissue" being extracted from women, but who now rightly regard abortion (especially sex selection abortion) as a complex, morally freighted issue.

Complications is a book chocka-block with information about the effect of pregnancy and abortion on breasts that every young woman of childbearing age should know in the event that abortion comes up for consideration in her future.  And a salutary reminder to ideological leaders that one insults Mother Nature at one's followers' peril.



Barbara Kay "Hard truths about abortion." National Post, (Canada) 11 December, 2013.

Reprinted with permission of the author, Barbara Kay, and the National Post.

The Author

kay Barbara Kay is a Montreal-based writer. She has been a Comment page columnist (Wednesdays) in the National Post since September, 2003.

Copyright © 2013 National Post
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