Quietly and with little notice from the press, state legislatures have started requiring that women be informed of the cancer risk associated with abortion. As a result, it may soon be common knowledge that having a baby at a young age modestly reduces a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer, while having an abortion may increase it.
In September 1995, Louisiana became the first state to require that women considering elective abortion receive information about the association between abortion and breast cancer, known as the ABC link. At least 24 hours before an abortion is scheduled, the woman must be given a booklet prepared by the state. While acknowledging that "several studies have found no overall increase in the risk of developing breast cancer after an induced abortion' and that "this issue needs further study," the booklet warns that "several studies do show an increased" long-term medical risk. The warning is even stronger for women who have a family history of breast cancer or who themselves have breast disease.
Louisiana urges those women to seek medical advice before they consider an abortion.
Montana has followed Louisiana's lead, and the Pennsylvania legislature was sufficiently interested to commission a review of the scientific research. That "meta-analysis" was performed by Dr. Joel Brind, professor of biology and endocrinology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, in collaboration with specialists associated with the Hershey Medical Center, an affiliate of Pennsylvania State University. Their work is currently undergoing peer review. Its publication is expected early this year.
Conveniently for the layman, Brind--whose own research has explored the connections between reproductive hormones and human disease for over a decade--summarized the state of medical knowledge in the December 25, 1995, issue of National Review. By his count, 22 relevant studies have appeared in...