One of the biggest stories of the week was the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to defund their grants to Planned Parenthood. It was a polarizing decision and some people on both sides of the abortion debate took a little liberty with facts. Though Komen’s decision centered on the fact that Planned Parenthood is under Congressional investigation, their funding of Planned Parenthood is ludicrous for an entirely different reason – why would you fund an organization whose practices likely cause the very thing you’re trying to prevent?
Abortion and birth control are legal, and Planned Parenthood has every right to offer both. If they and their supporters really care about women’s health and reproductive rights, though, they are obligated to fully disclose all the ramifications of the procedures and medications they offer.
A dark side of the sexual revolution and women’s rights movement is the belief that we can engage in a free sexual lifestyle and “reproductive choice” as a fundamental human right. That’s debatable, but what isn’t debatable is that there are consequences for every action. Every time you have sex, you risk pregnancy. If you use hormonal birth control to prevent this, or have an abortion to terminate a pregnancy, you increase your risk of breast cancer. In the “It’s your body, do what you want” meme, consequences are not mentioned, and discovered only when it’s too late.
In 1986, government scientists wrote a letter to the British journal Lancet and acknowledged that abortion is a cause of breast cancer. They wrote, “Induced abortion before first term pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer.” (Lancet, 2/22/86, p. 436)
As of 2006, eight medical organizations recognize that abortion raises a woman’s risk for breast cancer, independently of the risk of delaying the birth of a first child (a secondary effect that all experts already acknowledge). An additional medical organization, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, issued a statement in 2003 calling on doctors to inform patients about a “highly plausible” relationship between abortion and breast cancer. General counsel for that medical group wrote an article for its journal warning doctors that three women (two Americans, one Australian) successfully sued their abortion providers for neglecting to disclose the risks of breast cancer and emotional harm, although none of the women had developed the disease. (www.abortionbreastcancer.com)
Another after-effect left out when speaking about abortion is the emotional effect on the father. Men are also emotionally affected by the loss of their child. John Cooper, lead singer of the band Skillet, authored the song “Lucy,” detailing one man’s turmoil after his girlfriend had an abortion. He says of the meaning behind the song:
“..this week is the very first time that I’ve ever told what this song is about, because, uh, it’s very special to me, but I feel like it’s time to talk about it a little bit, so.. listen up while I tell you a story about a young girl and a young guy who found themselves in a hard situation. They didn’t know what to do when they found out that she was pregnant; they were young, they didn’t have any money, they were scared, they didn’t want to tell anybody, they didn’t know what to do, and the only option that they could see was to terminate the pregnancy. So that’s what they decided to do… they went to a clinic, they had the procedure done, and at first they felt relieved that all their problems had gone away. But then something happened that they did not expect… and that’s over the next few weeks, which turned into a few months, they began to feel an intense sadness… and a pain and an agony and a guilt that wouldn’t go away. They didn’t know what to do, so they finally went to see a counselor; they said look — tell us what to do, we just don’t know, and the counselor made a suggestion. The counselor said here’s what you need to do — stop acting like you had a procedure, and act like you had a death in the family. So the couple went home and they made three decisions; number one, they decided to have a funeral service for the baby; number two, they bought a tiny little headstone; and they last decision to make was what to name the baby. After a couple weeks they finally decided they would call her… Lucy.”
Other family members can be affected as well. A friend of mine confided in me the loss that she felt upon learning that her sister had been aborted. Julie* was 17 when her mother had an abortion after being told that the medications she was taking could harm the baby. Julie’s mother thought she would be okay because, after all, it was just a fetus, right? By the time the baby’s due date rolled around, both Julie and her mother were distraught. Every February Julie thinks about the sister – the sister she always wanted – who would be only a few years older than her oldest child, and all the fun times they would have had together. It’s like there’s an empty chair at the table, a hole in the heart that can’t be filled.
I fully support funding a true women’s health organization that will counsel women about ALL of the risks and side effects of an abortion or hormonal birth control. But for a breast cancer research and prevention charity to fund an organization that is the largest provider of abortions defies logic.