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Tom Feran
By Tom Feran June 24, 2013

State Rep. Ron Hood links abortion and breast cancer in legislation

A group of Ohio House Republicans has introduced legislation aimed at reducing abortions through an extensive list of restrictions and requirements.

Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, the sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 200, said he drafted it based on talks with the National Pro-Life Alliance. He said it was intended to make women more aware of what they are doing to "make an informed choice."

Among its provisions, the bill would require abortion providers to tell patients about "the increased risk of breast cancer" from abortion.

PolitiFact Ohio wanted to know more about that warning. We called to ask Hood for the source.

His legislative aide referred us to the website of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, an advocacy group that asserts there has been a "cover-up" of a link between abortion and breast cancer.

A review of the website shows that the group's case for a link is supported largely by the work of Dr. Joel Brind, a member of the group's advisory board, who is a professor of biochemistry at Baruch College in New York City and is recognized as the leading proponent of an abortion-breast cancer link; and Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon in New Jersey who, with Brind, co-founded the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute to help publicize what is sometimes called the ABC (for abortion-breast cancer) link.

A review of the history shows their work is a significant part of what has been called "abortion politics."

Research on a possible connection had been going on for decades when Brind published an analysis in the 1990s that suggested a link between induced abortion (the deliberate ending of a pregnancy) and an increased risk of breast cancer.

But the analysis was based on studies that relied on survey interviews of women, which were widely questioned because of factors including "response bias" --  the inaccurate self-reporting of medical history information by participants.

Subsequent studies using larger groups and data not subject to bias found no link, according to sources including the National Cancer Institute.

In 2003, largely because of political questions raised over the "ABC link," the NCI convened a three-day conference of experts on abortion and cancer. Based on a review of population-based, clinical and animal studies, they concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.

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Hood also pointed specifically to a 2009 paper by Lanfranchi about the mechanisms of cancer. It asserted that a prematurely ended pregnancy leaves a woman with more cancer-susceptible breast tissue than when the pregnancy began.

Also in 2009, however, the Committee on Gynecologic Practice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that "more rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk."

PolitiFact does not do medical or scientific analysis. We rely, as we do in other areas, on the most reliable and independent sources available.

The World Health Organization says that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society says: "scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer."

The Susan. G. Komen Foundation says there is no link.

The National Cancer Institute gives its highest strength-of-evidence ratings to the statements that:

  • Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

  • Recognized spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.

  • Women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women.

  • Women who have had a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) have the same risk of breast cancer as other women.

  • Cancers other than breast cancer also appear to be unrelated to a history of induced or spontaneous abortion.

The credible research overwhelmingly contradicts the statement in Hood’s legislation. It’s a ridiculous claim, and even more ridiculous to force doctors to spread this misinformation to patients. Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

The Plain Dealer, "Ohio House Republicans propose more abortion restrictions," June 12, 2013

Mansfield News Journal, "Ohio abortion bill could add requirements for women," June 14, 2013

Columbus Dispatch, "GOP legislators prepare bill to add hurdles to abortion in Ohio," June 14, 2013

Ohio 130th General Assembly, House Bill 200

Email/interview with Rep. Ron Hood aide Brenden Boudreau, June 14, 2013

Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Cambridge Journals, "Medical History," via National Center for Biotechnology Information, "Breast Cancer and the Politics of Abortion in the United States," Oct. 1, 2005

National Cancer Institute, "Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk," Jan. 12, 2012

The Linacre Quarterly, "The Reasons Hormonal Contraceptives and Induced Abortion Increase Breast-Cancer Risk," August 2009

World Health Organization, "Induced abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer," June 2000

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, "The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion," Nov. 23, 2011

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Induced abortion and breast cancer risk," June 2009

American Cancer Society, "Is Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer?" Feb. 19, 2013.

National Cancer Institute, "Reproductive History and Breast Cancer Risk," May 10, 2011

Susan G. Komen Foundation, "Abortion and breast cancer risk," Sept. 8, 2012

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, "Facts and myths," 2012

U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, "Breast Cancer Risks," March 27, 2008

Wikipedia, "Abortion–breast cancer hypothesis," updated May 24, 2013

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State Rep. Ron Hood links abortion and breast cancer in legislation

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