California Judge Decides Free Speech Trumps Women’s Rights to Informed Consent

March 28th, 2002

A spokesperson for a women’s group today expressed disappointment that a California Superior Court judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by three women against Planned Parenthood Federation of America for having misrepresented more than four decades of research linking abortion with breast cancer. The plaintiffs, Agnes Bernardo, Pamela Colip and Saundra Duffy-Hawkins were represented by the Michigan based group, the Thomas More Center for Law and Justice. 

Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, lamented that “Thousands of American women relying on Planned Parenthood’s false assurances that abortion is ‘safer’ than childbirth will suffer and die because of Judge Ronald Prager’s decision. It means that women who’ve had abortions at Planned Parenthood facilities in California won’t be told they’re at risk and will not, therefore, seek early detection or strive to reduce their risks by taking risk reduction drugs or experiencing a pregnancy and breast feeding. Judge Prager has apparently concluded that an abortion provider’s right to free speech, even if it is deceptive advertising, trumps a woman’s right to give informed consent to an elective surgical procedure.” 

Planned Parenthood’s website inaccurately states that “In the first 20 weeks, abortion is much safer than giving birth,” and that “Death occurs in 1 of 100,000 abortions. Childbirth carries seven times more risk.” The website also assures women that abortion is “about twice as safe as having your tonsils out.” In fact, biological evidence (which includes an animal study) and 28 out of 37 studies (cited on our website at support a causal relationship between abortion and the disease. 

An affidavit provided by Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, clearly reveals that abortion is far more dangerous than childbirth. Citing the Brind-Penn State team’s 1996 comprehensive review and meta-analysis of the worldwide studies in which a 30% increased risk was found for women who’d had an abortion, he explained that his team’s findings “means that 3 out of every 400 (or 750 per 100,000) women who have an induced abortion will die from breast cancer attributable to the abortion....” 1 

Referring to the elevated risk which scientists agree results from the postponement of a first full term pregnancy, Dr. Brind said, “Research shows that even a one year delay of the first full term pregnancy (including through abortion) results in an increased risk of death from breast cancer about ten (10) times greater than the death rate associated with childbirth, which has been estimated by the American Medical Association at 9.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. If first childbirth is delayed by more than one year after the abortion, the risk of breast cancer (and therefore of death from breast cancer) is correspondingly greater.” 

James McElroy, an attorney for the San Diego chapter of Planned Parenthood, accused the female plaintiffs and their attorneys of using the courts to “intimidate women with junk science.” He added that it was a victory for supporters of abortion. 

“Mr. McElroy seems to be suggesting that scientists publishing in our nation’s premier medical journals don’t really practice science,” said Mrs. Malec. “Any thinking person can recognize the spin Mr. McElroy has put on this. The decision is really a victory for Planned Parenthood’s bottom line at the expense of women’s health. Nevertheless, we are encouraged that the plaintiffs will be appealing the decision of the court.” 

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international women’s organization founded to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information on abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer.

  • 1. Brind et al. (1996) J Epidemiol Community Health 50:481-96

News Date