In New Hampshire, a Tea Party-happy House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require doctors to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer—despite the fact that it’s untrue.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeanine Notter, states that “it is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer” and “women facing an abortion decision have a right to know that such medical data exists.” Therefore, doctors must inform pregnant women that “there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer.”
But no link between abortion and breast cancer has been proven. The consensus in the scientific community, in fact, is that abortion does not cause breast cancer—a statement supported by the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
One reason some previous studies may have showed a link is because the more periods a woman has over a lifetime, the greater her breast cancer risk, crudely. A woman who has 5 children—thus 5 pregnancies, and 5 long stretches with no menstruation—has a lower lifetime risk of breast cancer than a similar woman who has no children. A woman who has an abortion could have a higher lifetime chance of developing breast cancer relative to a woman who has been pregnant—assuming, of course, she never has or will have children.
Full-term pregnancy does reduce a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. Which does not mean that abortion, per se, causes it.
Someone should explain this to Notter. According to the Huffington Post, she has said in the past that she believes abortion and birth control pills cause spaces in breast duct tissue to allow for the growth of cancer cells. She also believes birth control pills can cause prostate cancer in the male offspring of women who’ve taken them.
Notter’s bill would also institute a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, and require doctors provide a series of fetal pictures taken at two-week intervals, a list of agencies that assist women during pregnancy and childbirth, material on paternal support obligations and a presentation on the possible medical side effects of abortion. Another bill that passed the N.H. house Wednesday would change the timing for judges to decide whether a minor can have an abortion without parental notification. The fates of both bills in the state Senate are uncertain.