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Feminist News


October-17-03

MN: Health Brochure Implies Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

Recent revisions to a Minnesota health brochure that must be provided to women seeking abortions have drawn criticism from women's health and abortion rights advocates. The pamphlet previously was quite clear in refuting the anti-abortion claim that having an abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer, basing its statement on scientific evidence, including a report by the National Cancer Institute that concluded there is no "link" between abortion and breast cancer. The pamphlet now reads: "Findings from some studies suggest there is an increased risk of breast cancer among women who have had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggest there is no increased risk. The issue may need further study," according to the Pioneer Press.

The newly revised brochure also includes a controversial statement on fetal pain. The old fact sheet said, "Questions have been raised about whether the unborn child feels pain. There appears to be no consensus among experts about when and if the unborn child perceives pain. Research in this area is ongoing," the Press reports. The new version states, "Some experts have concluded the unborn child feels physical pain after 20 weeks gestation." Dr. Daniel Landers, director of maternal and fetal medicine at a hospital in Minneapolis, explains that there is no medical consensus on whether or when fetuses feel pain, according to the Star Tribune.

The pamphlets were created to comply with the so-called Women's Right to Know Act, a recently passed Minnesota law requiring that doctors provide women seeking an abortion a range of information 24 hours before the procedure. "I'd say it is a triumph of ideology over science," said Tim Stanley, executive director of NARAL Minnesota, of the new brochure, according to the Star Tribune.

LEARN MORE Read the Ms. Magazine coverage of the Bush Administration's "Weird Science"

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Media Resources: Pioneer Press 10/8/03; Star Tribune 10/8/03, 10/9/03; Feminist Daily News Wire