The Abortion-Breast Cancer Research: What it Means for Lisa Madigan and Company

by Karen Malec,
President of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer
Published in Illinois Leader, September 20, 2002 

Two or three decades ago, it might have been difficult to imagine a situation in which radical feminist legislators would fight bitterly to oppose a women’s health care issue. After all, the American public has been constantly reminded for the last 30 years that such politicians are the champions of women’s health care. Breast cancer and legalized abortion are issues which belonged to them alone, and any male legislator who didn’t go along with the program was represented as an individual lacking in compassion and as a violator of women’s rights. These are the mantras that have been repeated to us: abortion is “health care”; women are autonomous decision makers; radical feminists care about women’s health; abortion is a woman’s choice; and abortion is safe. 

A new chapter on women’s health, however, was opened in the Illinois legislature two years ago which illustrated that radical feminists didn’t really believe any of their mantras. A resolution was introduced in the Senate (SR 214 and SR 8) calling for a task force to review strong biological and epidemiological evidence which has been amassed over nearly a half century and implicated abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer. 

At the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, we witnessed a sorry spectacle when a vote came up for this measure in May 2001. Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood, an abortion supporter, breast cancer survivor and spokesperson, testified in opposition to it. Outrageously, her testimony meant that other women would not be spared her own suffering. She argued that women should be kept in the dark about the research because those who’ve had abortions would only be made to feel more “guilt.” We wonder: what does she think women should feel guilty about? Certainly, this was never an issue when the tobacco-cancer link was debated. 

Wood’s testimony meant that women who’ve had abortions will continue to be denied life saving health care information. Millions of post-abortive women don’t know they’re at increased risk for the disease and aren’t seeking early detection. Abortion-bound teenagers and their parents have been left in the dark. They aren’t being informed about a National Cancer Institute commissioned study finding that women under age 18 who procure abortions more than double their risk and those with a family history of the disease just about guarantee themselves breast cancer if they obtain abortions. 1

Women aren’t being told about staggering evidence independently linking abortion with the disease, including: 1) 28 out of 37 peer reviewed epidemiological studies, 17 of which are statistically significant; 2) An animal study showing more aborted rats can be reliably induced to develop breast cancer when exposed to a carcinogen than virgin rats and rats having full term pregnancies; and 3) A sound biological explanation pointing to estrogen overexposure as the culprit which makes such good sense to scientists that they don’t bother to challenge it. [Reference] 

Not surprisingly, the same organizations which profit from abortion were also on record as opponents of the measure - Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women (NOW). Shockingly (but not surprisingly), a lobbyist for the Illinois State Medical Society who was also present did absolutely nothing to defend women’s health, but rather sat with lobbyists from Planned Parenthood and company. Other legislators calling themselves “pro-choice” fought bitterly against this measure as well, including Senators Christine Radogno, Debbie Halvorson and Kathleen Parker. 

This bizarre spectacle was replayed during a press conference on Sunday when Lisa Madigan berated her opponent in the race for Illinois attorney general, Joe Birkett, for having supported the formation of a state task force. Dipping into the feminists’ arsenal of stock political slogans, she lobbed the accusations that he was “exploiting breast cancer for political purposes” and “playing politics with women’s health.” (How many times have we heard that nonsense in the last thirty years?) 

Most egregiously, Madigan falsely reassured women of the safety of abortion by asserting that “there is no proof” of a link. Did you notice the high bar she set for women’s health - proof of a link between an optional surgical procedure (a choice) and a deadly disease? Isn’t that the same impossible standard tobacco executives once demanded? Proof can only be obtained by doing unethical experiments on women. New Jersey breast cancer surgeon Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., F.A.C.S. illustrated the absurdity of Madigan’s high standard. Claiming that “the abortion-breast cancer studies show a causal relationship,” Lanfranchi explained, “The only proof would be if you took 100 closely matched women and impregnated them, aborted 50 of them and then followed them to see who got more breast cancer. Since that is an unethical thing to do to a human, we have been able to do that in rats.” 2

Madigan’s attack on Birkett was so intense that a person has to wonder: What is Lisa Madigan so afraid of? After all, we’re only asking for an examination of the research which has been amassed over nearly a half century. Is it possible for women to have too much health care information? Could that be what Madigan really fears? As a “pro-choice” politician who has the support of the abortion profiteers, is she capable of being impartial about the research? Let’s be honest. Pro-life women don’t get abortions. Only abortion supporters do. Is their welfare really a matter of concern for her? 

Just this week, the National Physicians Center for Family Resources released a CD citing breast cancer as a long-term complication of abortion. The CD is intended for parents and health educators in educating children about sexual health. This medical organization joins other medical organizations who’ve recognized the significance of the abortion-breast cancer research, including: the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, the Catholic Medical Association and the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. After publishing this information in a press release, we called upon Madigan to retract her irresponsible statement that there is “no proof” of a link. What was Madigan’s response? Complete silence. 

What will be the political consequences for Lisa Madigan, Corinne Wood, et al. when the public finally learns the truth that abortion raises breast cancer risk? Women and their families will be “spitting nails.” They will speak of their betrayal for political and financial gain. They will liken Madigan’s and Wood’s behavior to that of tobacco state politicians when the tobacco-cancer link was being debated in the mid-20th Century. Taxpayers will ask hard questions too, such as: how much have we spent to finance Planned Parenthood over the years, and how much will we have to pay for the increased cost of health care as a result? 

Since the 17th Century, scientists have observed that childbearing patterns strongly influence breast cancer risk. They observed that nuns had a high incidence of breast cancer and hypothesized that childbearing must offer some increased protection. Modern-day scientists have long accepted that childlessness, late first full term pregnancy and lack of or short lifetime duration of breastfeeding increase risk. 

Conversely, medical experts have universally agreed since 1970 that the earlier a married woman has a first full term pregnancy, the lower her risk is. Population controllers at Planned Parenthood and NOW know that the longer a woman postpones her first full term pregnancy, the smaller her family is likely to be. 

Significantly, a large meta-analysis of 47 studies in 30 countries was published in the British journal Lancet in July which confirmed what scientists have long believed to be true, but nevertheless it was touted in the media as a revelation. Women who have larger families and who breastfeed more over the course of their lifetimes have a much reduced risk for the disease - 4.3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding and 7.0% for each birth. The author of the meta-analysis, Professor Valerie Beral, a long time denier of the abortion-breast cancer link, said breast cancer rates in the developed nations could be cut by more than one half if only women would bear more children and breastfeed longer. 3 Is it logical for Madigan and her pals to say that abortion doesn’t cause breast cancer at least in this way? Should they be promoting abortion sales? 

We know that abortion isn’t the only risk factor for the disease and that not all women who’ve had breast cancer have had abortions. We also know that it was once considered a grandmother’s disease, but in only a few short decades it’s become a young woman’s disease. Many of the teenagers procuring abortions today will have to fight breast cancer in 15 or 20 years at the same time that they’re also raising young children. A large number of them will lose this battle, and their children will be left motherless. 

The incidence of breast cancer in the U.S. has risen sharply since abortion was legalized in 1973 - more than 40%, according to a report last year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 4 Clearly, only a radical change in American society could have brought about this tragic situation. One in 8 women is now expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. 

Given these circumstances, why are abortion and abortifacient drugs being heavily marketed to American women and falsely labeled by Madigan and radical women’s groups as “health care”? Why haven’t anti-cancer organizations, whose funding is derived in part from an ever-increasing pool of cancer patients and survivors, blown the whistle on this mammoth enterprise? Why haven’t they embarked on a public health awareness effort to considerably reduce breast cancer rates through the most effective means known: increased childbearing and breastfeeding? Two Japanese studies had already reported increased risk by 1973 when abortion was legalized. 5 Why didn’t anti-cancer organizations tell women about the existence of these studies and subsequent research spanning almost five decades? Were women ever supposed to know the truth?

  • 1. Daling et al. (1994) J Natl Cancer Inst 86:1584-92.
  • 2. Russo & Russo (1980) Am J Pathol 100(2):497-512.
  • 3. Beral V (July 20, 2002) The Lancet 360:187-95.
  • 4. Howe H et al. “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (1973 through 1998), Featuring Cancers With Recent Increasing Trends;” J Natl Cancer Inst (June 6, 2001) 93:824-842.
  • 5. Segi et al. (1957) GANN 48 (Suppl.):1-63; and Watanabe & Hirayama (1968) Nippon Rinsho 26:1853-9.