Questionable Statistics, Without Sources, Offered to Prove Anti-Abortion Point

RECEIVED Fri., Dec. 5, 2003

In the article ["Women Dig In," Dec. 5] Ms. Smith contends: "Informational brochures that women will be required to read ... also claim that abortions can increase a woman's chances of breast cancer, despite the lack of credible data to support such a claim."
   This is irresponsible reporting; at the very least Ms. Smith could have stated that this is hotly debated. The fact is that 28 out of 37 worldwide studies have independently linked induced abortion with breast cancer. Thirteen out of 15 studies conducted on American women report increased risk. Most of the studies have been conducted by abortion supporters.
   Breast cancer is the greatest cancer killer among American women between the ages of 20 and 59. The incidence of cancer climbed 40% in the last quarter of the 20th century (since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States in 1973), while the incidence for all other cancers has either remained the same or declined.
   Every woman should know this information before getting an abortion.
Gerardo Garcia
   [Amy Smith's and Louis Black's response: We find your claims hard to believe, given that a number of credible sources, including the National Cancer Institute, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have found no direct link between abortions and breast cancer. The NCI's most recent findings can be found at http://cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ere-workshop-report. In August, a committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed earlier studies of the relationship between abortions and breast cancer risks and found them to be "inconsistent and difficult to interpret." The committee noted, however, that more rigorous and recent studies "argue against a causal relationship between induced abortions and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk." Given the firm conviction with which you offer your statistics we'd be very interested in your source or sources. Finally, do you feel in every medical case where there is even a suggestion of possible harm that the state should intrude, demanding patient education, or is your concern limited to issues in which you have a preconceived ideological position?]
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