One in four New Zealand women have an abortion in their lives. One in ten will develop breast cancer. Now doctors suspect our soaring abortion rate is causing our breast cancer epidemic, as IAN WISHART reports

It was the court case that helped define the so-called permissive generation. Now, 30 years after the US Supreme Court’s controversial 1973 decision in Roe vs Wade to legalise abor-tion on demand, the abortion issue is once again set to dominate world politics and social dis-cussion, but not with the same old arguments. The crunch is on its way as a result of ‘conver-gence’ – the coming together of a range of separate threads in the issue to form what some regard as strong-enough evidence to once again see abortion outlawed in the United States, and placed under serious pressure in countries like New Zealand and Britain.

Whether that’s a move forward to enlightenment, or backwards to repression, depends on your sociopolitical perspective, but both sides are once again preparing for a bitter fight where the winner takes all.

Among the new ‘threads’ up for examination is a mountain of growing scientific and medical evidence indicating abortions may be the cause of the West’s massive breast cancer epidemic. New Zealand has, per capita, one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world. Ironically, we’re also a world leader on abortions as well.

But the evidence of a link goes much further than similarities in the ratio of breast cancer in the community to abortions performed. Over the past few decades, nearly three dozen scientific studies have been carried out on women who’ve had abortions. But it’s only recently that medical experts have gone back over the studies and looked for common themes. What they found astounded them.

Of the 33 major studies on the effects of abortion, 27 have shown, on re-examination, strong evidence that women who’ve had abortions are up to 50% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who haven’t.

A study with rats echoed the massively increased risk of breast cancer.

The reason is actually quite simple: early in pregnancy, during the first trimester, hormones stimulate breast development in preparation for milk production. That development occurs in two phases, both of which have to complete or the woman runs a risk of breast cancer. In the first phase, the hormone estrogen makes breast cells multiply rapidly. This rapid increase in multiplying breast cells continues until about the 32nd week. At that point, in a normal pregnancy, fresh chemical messengers instruct the breast cells to convert from multiplying cells to milk production cells. Once a ‘multiplying’ cell has been converted to a ‘milk production’ cell, it doesn’t ever switch back. Its ability to multiply is forever turned off.

In computer terms, it is the breast equivalent of the infamous Microsoft Windows "blue screen of death", where the programme fails to shut down properly and sends the entire machine into a tailspin because it never got to finish its tasks.

This ‘switch-off’ is critical: only breast cells still capable of multiplying can turn into cancerous cells later in life. Milk producing cells cannot. And the problem for the 17,000 New Zealand women getting abortions every year is that termination of pregnancy interferes in this crucial process. When a baby is aborted, the woman’s breasts never get sent the chemical message to switch off the multiplication. They’re left with breasts that can literally become cancer timebombs.

After a normal full-term pregnancy, on the other hand, a woman actually has fewer multiplying cells in her breasts than she did before she even became pregnant. Pregnancy, and milk production, actually reduces the risk of breast cancer substantially.

One in ten New Zealand women will develop breast cancer in their lives, according to Breast Cancer Foundation figures, and roughly a quarter of those will die from it. With almost 700 deaths a year, and 2,300 new cases diagnosed each year, breast cancer is a major problem and projected to worsen. By contrast, cervical cancer kills only around 80 New Zealand women a year. Ironically, sexual politics surrounds the cervical cancer issue as well though, with few women being informed that more than 90% of cervical cancers are caused by sexually transmitted genital wart infections and are therefore "avoidable".



But back to breast can-cer: roughly one in four women will have an abortion during their lives, and one in ten women will go on to develop breast cancer. Breast cancer rates have risen in direct correlation to the rising tide of abortions.

While the data showing breast cancer may be a direct result of abortion continues to mount, there appears to be no reference to the issue on the Breast Cancer Foundation’s figures. The question is, why not?

Perhaps because the New Zealand Cancer Society claims there is no link. The Cancer Society makes a big push every year for public donations through its "Daffodil Day" street appeals, and funding from various organisations. But despite seeking public money, it is refusing to warn women that there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer. Society policy advisor Betty Marshall prepared a summary of facts on the issue for the Cancer Society’s staff, and that summary states "there is currently no conclusive link between induced abortion and increased risk of breast cancer."

Marshall quotes a World Health Organisation factsheet making similar claims, and the Cancer Society in New Zealand confidently tells inquirers not to worry, there is no link.

But in the United States the National Cancer Institute has been in the spotlight for making the same claims, and getting punished for it. The NCI stated on its website at one point: "The scientific rationale for an association between abortion and breast cancer is based on limited experimental data in rats and is not consistent with human data."

But of course, the human data is extensive, and the rat study is merely icing on the cake.

As a result of being caught out misleading the public and the threat of a Congressional investigation into the deception, the National Cancer Institute withdrew the false denials of the cancer/abortion link from its website.

But cancer institutes around the world, and abortion providers, are still trying to minimise the scientific findings, by publishing the findings of one Danish study that did not discover a link.

As they say, one swallow does not a summer make, and the remaining studies show comprehensive evidence that abortion can cause breast cancer. So much evidence, that some critics are openly suggesting that the cover-up by cancer institutes and abortion providers is equivalent to the "Big Tobacco" cover-ups exposed by movies like The Insider.

Indeed, while the first study to show a link between smoking and lung cancer was published in 1929, the National Cancer Institute didn’t issue its first warning about the tobacco/cancer link until 1957. It may take time for the cancer establishment to join the dots, but researchers are confident they eventually will.

Nor does the New Zealand Cancer Society’s "no link" position stack up in the wake of the very latest study. Only a month ago, in a major US obstetrics journal, Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, the University of Carolina’s John Thorp acknowledges the breast cancer/abortion evidence is overwhelming and recommends that it is time to inform the public about the link.

"We think, now, that clinicians are obliged to inform pregnant women that a decision to abort her first pregnancy may almost double her lifetime risk of breast cancer.

"A young woman with an unintended pregnancy clearly sacrifices the protective effect of a term delivery should she decide to abort and delay child-bearing," warns Thorp. His study was peer reviewed by abortion specialists who agree with his findings.

Thorp also found, as have others, that women undergoing abortions are more likely to suffer increased risk of future premature births – a cause of cerebral palsy – placenta previa, mood disorders and suicide.

Nor is Thorp a wet-behind-the-ears researcher. His qualifications list includes being the "Mcallister Distinguished Professor" of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the US. Thorp is so concerned about the link between abortion and cancer that he warns his medical colleagues they could be opening themselves up to lawsuits if they fail to inform women seeking abortions about the dangers.

"Failure to provide this information is a direct threat to maternal autonomy, diminishing a woman’s ability to give informed consent."

Womens’ groups in the US are delighted that the medical profession is finally starting to break its silence.

"We are pleased," says Karen Malec, the president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, "that after nearly a half century, doctors are finally being encouraged to inform women about the existence of ongoing research exploring an independent link between abortion and breast cancer.

"However, women also have the right to know that there is overwhelming biological and epidemiological evidence supporting an independent relationship between abortion and the disease. Clearly it is beneficial to women when their doctors are pro-information.

"If physicians inform their patients about the delayed first term pregnancy effect associated with abortion, then perhaps they can help turn around the soaring rates of breast cancer."

Malec’s Coalition has posted many of the studies online on its website,, to help stimulate informed discussion and consent.

According to another researcher, Chris Kahlenborn MD, the average increased risk of 50% for breast cancer if a woman has an abortion can get much higher once age of the mother and the fetus is taken into account.

If you’re under 18, he warns, your risk of developing breast cancer rises by 150%. If you’re under 18 and the fetus is more than nine weeks old when it is aborted, your chances of developing breast cancer later in life rise by a massive 800 percent.

But why, if the risks are so high, haven’t the dangers of abortion to mothers in terms of cancer been shouted from the rooftops like the smoking/lung cancer link?

"It is more than a media bias, it’s a total media blackout – especially the medical media," Dr Kahlenborn told US journalists last year. "But that’s no surprise, because the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are officially pro-abortion and it’s no surprise that you don’t hear from them."

New Zealand seems to have a similar problem. One of the leading researchers on the link between abortion and breast cancer, Dr Joel Brind, was invited to New Zealand for a public lecture on his findings. According to the newspaper Pro-Life Times, details of Brind’s research and his meeting schedule were mailed to Dr Pippa MacKay, who’d just been appointed chairwoman of the New Zealand Medical Association. MacKay is also associated with and performs some of the eight abortions a day (1,964 a year) carried out at the Lyndhurst Abortion Clinic in Christchurch, the city where Brind was to speak.

When meeting organisers followed up their letter with a phonecall to ask whether MacKay would be interested in attending the lecture, MacKay allegedly answered "I am very aware of it. I have a prior engagement and I am not interested."

What about a private meeting with Dr Brind?

MacKay’s response was equally terse: "As I pointed out, I’m not interested. I don’t want to talk with him."

MacKay’s attitude came into even sharper focus recently, when news broke on the front pages of several New Zealand daily papers that "Growing numbers of doctors and nurses are refusing to perform abortions on ethical grounds."

The Dominion Post quoted the Abortion Supervisory Committee and Ministry of Health as describing the problem as "extremely sensitive", and the Ministry suggested medical students might have to undergo "increased abortion education" so as to overcome their moral objections to terminating babies.

The Christchurch Press ran this story:


Some pregnant Christchurch women wanting terminations are being "sabotaged" by their GPs, says Ilam doctor Pippa MacKay. Dr MacKay, who performs abortions at Lyndhurst, said some women were turning up for a termination without having an examination or blood test. Some GPs were failing to book their patients in for abortions, while others would not treat them or tell them where to go for help.

"Some GPs say they will arrange things but don’t, and women come in at 12 to 13 weeks which is beyond time (for a first trimester abortion). Some GPs deliberately delay them.

"Women are making a decision which is obviously difficult and GPs are being destructive. If GPs are uncomfortable they have an ethical obligation to tell patients where they can get the service," Dr MacKay said.

She said she suspected the increase in foreign doctors was compounding the problem.

"We get a lot of doctors who are not from Western countries. They are Arabic or Egyptian where they may not approve of abortion. But this is New Zealand and the law is what it is. Women are entitled to have an abortion."


MacKay, of course, draws a large chunk of her income from carrying out taxpayer-funded abortion surgery, which raises an interesting irony: having just accused anti-abortion doctors of "sabotaging" the process by not referring women, can consultants and surgeons who are paid to perform abortions be expected to offer truly objective advice to women that MacKay herself admits are in a "difficult" situation?

On the presumption that turkeys don’t vote for an early Christmas, are those who make a living from the abortion industry likely to be interested in, or pass on to patients, the kind of research that shows abortions may cause an 800% increased risk of breast cancer?

When Investigate caught up with Pippa Mackay and told her we wanted to ask some questions about abortion and breast cancer, her initial response was pungent: "Oh, God!"

Asked about the findings of the Thorp study in January of a 50% increase in the likelihood of breast cancer following abortion, Mackay was initially dismissive.

"Look, I’m sure if that were really true, there’d be much more made of it and it wouldn’t be being done in a fringe way."

"Are you suggesting the Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey journal is a fringe publication?"

Pause... "Ah, no, not at all. Look, I haven’t read the Thorp study, I don’t really want to comment. I specialise in abortions, not cancer."

"Well, Thorp says the link is strong enough that all women seeking abortion should be warned in advance of a possible doubling in their risk of breast cancer, as part of informed consent procedures. As an abortion consultant, would you be happy to give that warning?"

"Um...if there...No, I don’t think I want to comment on this. I’m sick of being harrassed by anti-abortion types every time I make some sort of public comment. I don’t want to talk about it."

But MacKay’s position looks increasingly difficult to maintain in the light of the growing furore in the US. A New Jersey-based breast surgeon, Angela Lanfranchi, told New Zealand and US audiences last month of her own discovery of the link between teenage abortions and breast cancer.

"When I first heard about it," she told America’s Whistleblower magazine, I thought it was bunk. Then I changed the intake form in my office and asked [breast cancer] patients for their complete reproductive histories. I found a third of my 30 year olds having had abortions, and no history of breast cancer in the family.

"Over the past three or four years, I have spoken with many authorities and people in a position to be well informed. Some have been straightforward and said they know it is a risk factor but felt it was ‘too political’ to speak about.

"Others have been evasive...Some have been openly hostile...some initially hostile doctors debated it with me and have changed their minds. Some pro-choice doctors have come to agree it is true and do tell their patients about the risk. Some doctors who were initially skeptical have started obtaining a complete reproductive history on their patients and found, as I did, that cases of breast cancer in young women are associated with an abortion history.

"Women have a right to know. It’s wrong to keep this from them," says Lanfranchi.

But as we said at the start of this article, it’s not just the latest scientific evidence casting doubt on the safety of abortion, there are some other major developments also thrusting the issue into the headlines internationally.

While feminist groups around the world celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Roe vs Wade in January, notably absent from those celebrations were two key players. Jane Roe, the alias used by the young woman whose fight to have an abortion went all the way to victory in the US Supreme Court, has now become one of abortion’s most ardent opponents.

Roe, real name Norma McCorvey, originally said she needed an abortion because she’d been raped. She later revealed, after the case, that she’d lied. She wasn’t raped, and in fact placed the unwanted child out for adoption. In her 1994 autobiography, McCorvey told of a past that included dysfunctional parents, reform school, petty crime, alcoholism, an abusive husband, attempted suicide and lesbianism.

After winning her case McCorvey – in what some might say was a Providential intervention – ended up working at an abortion clinic. She is still haunted by images of her work. "Dead children in glass jars and freezer bags," is how she described one Dallas clinic.

And here’s another fateful ‘coincidence’: Jane Roe’s lawyer Sarah Weddington, the attorney who fought so hard for the right for women to have abortions, is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It turns out Weddington had an abortion at the age of 21.

Weddington, however, insists Roe vs Wade was a victory for women’s rights around the world, despite the fact that her former client now believes it was the worst thing she ever did.

Weddington told Associated Press in January that the 30th anniversary of the case that built her career would be a "melancholy" one, largely because Republican domination of both Congress and Senate, and President Bush’s opportunity to appoint more conservative Supreme Court judges, meant Roe vs Wade could soon be overturned and abortion clinics closed down across America.


Likewise, Norma McCorvey sees ev-ery anniversary as a reminder of the mounting human death toll. "It’s 30 years of legalised abortion. It’s the 30th year of knowing that 3,500 children a day are going to be killed by abortion."

For what it’s worth, around 64 babies are killed every weekday throughout New Zealand, which on a per capita basis would equate to a US abortion rate of around 6,000 a day. Little wonder New Zealand is a world leader in the field.

Not surprisingly, it is "damned lies and statistics" that helped sell the "pro-choice" message to the US public back in the early 1970s. The co-founder of one of America’s largest pro-abortion pressure groups, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, recently confirmed to’s Whistleblower magazine that the public relations push to convince the people was built on fabricated survey results.

"We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal, enlightened, sophisticated one," says Bernard Nathanson, MD. "Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls.

"We announced to the media that we had taken polls, and that 60% of Americans were in favour of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our programme of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the US. The actual figure was approaching 100,000, but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was one million.

"Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000.

"These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans, convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law."

Dr Nathanson says another lie sold to a gullible public was that opening up abortion on demand would not create a huge upsurge in abortions, it would simply allow the abortions currently being performed illegally to be performed legitimately and safely.

"In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the US, and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1,500% since legalisation."

Nathanson, like MacKay, also made money from the newly-legalised abortion industry, setting up his own clinic in New York.

"At the end of the two years that I was the director, we had done 60,000 abortions. I myself, with my own hands, have done 5,000 abortions. I have supervised another 10,000 that residents have done under my direction. So I have 75,000 abortions in my life. Those are pretty good credentials to speak on the subject of abortion," he told Whistleblower.

Nathanson, like many others in the industry, now regards his actions as murder.


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