Abortion and Breast Cancer goes mainstream again…finally!

By Joel Brind, Ph.D.

Joel Brind, Ph.D.

In the space of less than a week, the link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link) has been talked about on the air by two prominent voices. This is source of great encouragement for those who struggle against what seems to be an almost complete media blackout.

First, it was pro-life Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaking on Fox News Sunday on February  5 in regard to the Komen v. Planned Parenthood (PP) conflagration. He said, “I don’t believe that breast cancer research is advanced by funding an organization where you’ve seen ties to cancer and abortion.”

Granted, that was just a passing mention, but keep in mind that it is the first time, to my knowledge, that a candidate for any major office has taken the opportunity to mention the ABC link at all in public.

In contrast, when Rush Limbaugh talked about the ABC link last Friday, it wasn’t the first time he had mentioned it;  the first time I heard Rush mention it was in 2006. But it was certainly the first time he—or any other commentator with a really wide audience—spoke about it in detail.

He went on for several minutes, launching off from a 2007 paper by UK actuary Patrick Carroll. (Actuaries make forecasts of disease and death for the insurance and pension industries.) No doubt Planned Parenthood’s assault on Komen was part of what brought this to his mind.

Specifically, Rush was referring to a study published in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons  “entitled, ‘The Breast Cancer Epidemic.’ It showed that, among seven risk factors, abortion is the ‘best predictor of breast cancer.’” That study, Rush continued, “showed that countries with higher abortion rates, such as England & Wales, could expect a substantial increase in breast cancer incidence. Where abortion rates are low (i.e., Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic) a smaller increase is expected. Where a decline in abortion has taken place, (i.e., Denmark and Finland) a decline in breast cancer is anticipated.”

I must say this was the first week since 1996—when our own “comprehensive review and meta-analysis” made a big but short-lived splash in the mainstream media—that the ABC link had gotten positive expression in a prominent media outlet. This time, Rush leveraged the prominence of the Komen v. Planned Parenthood fight to discuss a 5-year-old paper! Since the Carroll paper there have been at least a half-dozen studies that have further demonstrated the ABC link–two in China and one each in Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and the United States.

There’s a great lesson of encouragement that I take from these welcome events: Just keep telling the important truths as far and wide and loud as you can, and do not despair when weeks and months and years—maybe even decades–pass before that truth is told in the public square by prominent speakers. I still get emails from colleagues who often think that, just because they do not hear these life-saving truths on the air, those who speak from our side through the biggest megaphones do not know or do not care. They do!

It just takes time before the right opportunity presents itself. Certainly one should not be discouraged from doing one’s best to make sure these folks know about the issue. After all, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi and I first got a chance to brief Sen. Santorum on the issue ten years ago. I first gave Rush’s staff all the information I had on the ABC link almost 20 years ago, back in 1993, the year of my first ABC link workshop at the NRLC National Convention!

Of course, we have a long way to go before the ABC link is household knowledge—like cigarettes and lung cancer— but we’re getting there!

Editor’s note. For your convenience I  have reproduced Dr. Brind’s summary of Patrick Carroll’s analysis, which first appeared in the December 2008 edition of National Right to Life News. See “Abortion: The “Best Predictor” of Breast Cancer.”