As a surgeon, I am legally and ethically compelled to give informed consent for any surgical procedure. That same practice should be required of abortionists. This information will not end abortion. It allows women to take considered risk and would allow them to get screened at an appropriate age when the abortion occurs early in their lives. Women do have the Right to Know.
Recently, there were articles in major newspapers including the New York Times, LA Times and Chicago Tribune concerning several state legislatures which were in the process of writing or updating their “Right To Know” laws regarding the information to be given their citizens before an abortion. Two of the most detailed and well written were those of Eric Zorn, a contributor to the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Zorn provided long excerpts from the laws and even additional information about the states which have these laws. He also provided a link to information given by myself, a breast surgeon, which supported the aspect of the laws which cause the most outrage and consternation by those who support abortion: the fact that induced abortion increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
I had been asked to present the facts that support an abortion breast cancer link to legislators in New Hampshire and Kansas before laws requiring that information be given to women were out of committee to be voted upon. I did not argue the epidemiologic data although since 1957 there have been 67 studies, 50 with a positive association and 31 which have statistically significant results.
I presented only the biological facts that would concern a woman who is already pregnant. If that woman carries the pregnancy to term she would have a lower risk of breast cancer. Since the Middle Ages we’ve known women who give birth have a lower risk of breast cancer. If she aborts, she loses that benefit of lower risk.
If she never has a child subsequent to that abortion, she may remain childless which increases breast cancer risk.
Or if she does have a child in the future, for each year she delays that pregnancy after 20 years old, she increases her risk of premenopausal breast cancer by 5% and post menopausal breast cancer by 3.5%. If she already had given birth before her abortion, she loses an additional 10% risk reduction.
A woman who aborts also puts future children at risk for premature birth as abortion was found to be an “Immutable Risk” for premature birth by the Institutes of Medicine in 2006. If that premature birth occurs before 32 weeks, the mother doubles her risk for breast cancer and her child for cerebral palsy.
A woman who has a spontaneous abortion in the first trimester is not at increased risk as those pregnancies are associated with low estrogen and progesterone levels so her breasts have not enlarged by producing more immature breast tissue where cancers can start.
Induced abortions are usually in hormonally normal pregnancies and occur before 32 weeks when most breast tissue becomes cancer resistance thereby reducing risk.
There is no need to argue over the studies which show the Independent Link between induced abortion and breast cancer. Even if the 31 studies which show that link with 95% certainty are disregarded, because there are 17 studies which show no link, a woman’s biology alone will cause an abortion to increase her risk for breast cancer.
Before any surgical procedure, as a surgeon, I am must obtain my patient’s “informed consent.” The same should be required of abortionists. Telling abortion patients the facts will not end abortion – it will allow women to take considered risk and get screened for breast cancer at an appropriate age when the abortion occurs early in their lives.
Women do have the Right to Know.