Abortion-Breast Cancer Link Debated in Congress

Washington -- On June 8, 1999, a debate on the link between abortion and breast cancer erupted during the floor debate on the Coburn Amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act in the US House of Representatives. Dr. Coburn's Amendment--which ultimately passed by a vote of 217-214--prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from using federal funds to test or approve drugs such as RU-486 for the purpose of inducing abortion.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R,PA) said "Scientific studies have shown a link between abortion and breast cancer. Unfortunately, many who commit abortions do not want to let women know about that risk ... How can we in good concsience approve new forms of abortion before we study the breast cancer and abortion link further and let women know of the risk? This kind of information should be held in hearings before the committee."

Rep. DeLauro (D,CT) retorted that "the editor of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said that there is insufficient evidence that exists to link induced abortion and breast cancer."

Rep. Sue Myrick (R,NC) disagreed: "Ten out of 11 studies on American women report an increased risk of breast cancer after having an induced abortion, particularly among women with a history of breast cancer in their families."

Rep. Nita Lowey countered, citing the NY Times as her authority for saying "no evidence exists to link induced abortion and breast cancer".

Rep. Chris Smith (R,NJ) replied "The 'denial' people remind me of the Tobacco Institute denials who year after year said there is no connection between smoking and lung cancer."

Smith then proceeded to cite hard data from the published research of 'pro-choice', NCI-funded scientist Janet Daling:

"...there is an increase in the aggregate of all women of about 50% in the propensity to get breast cancer....She also found that if a woman aborts her first baby that number shoots up to 150%. Shame on those who say there is no linkage. They are misleading women. They are misleading women. And putting women at risk. Dr. Daling also found that where there is a history of breast cancer in that family, the vote (risk increase) skyrockets to 270% when abortion is involved."

Dr. Coburn himself next joined the fray, in response to Rep. Lowey's citation of a National Cancer Institute statement which claimed "no evidence of a direct relationship between breast cancer and either induced or spontaneous abortion."

Coburn, invoking his own training in science and professional expertise as an obstetrician/gynecologist, said "by combining that data, a normal response to a wrong and incomplete reproductive event (spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage) to the termination of a normal event (induced abortion), we do not have good data. They know that. That is why they put that material in there."

Another physician-Congressman, Dave Weldon (R, FL) had the last word on the abortion-breast cancer link:

"My colleagues, I have reviewed the studies on this issue and the studies are very, very compelling that there really is a link (between abortion and breast cancer). The statement released by the NCI (National Cancer Institute), I believe, is a very disingenuous statement. It really sincerely ignores the facts on this issue."

Source: Dr. Joel Brind Press Release

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