Lawmakers Won't Let the 'Abortions Cause Breast Cancer' Myth Die

Illustration for article titled Lawmakers Won't Let the 'Abortions Cause Breast Cancer' Myth Die

The mythical tie between abortions and breast cancer was definitively debunked more than 20 years ago.. and again 15 years ago... and again 10 years ago. So why are legislators still passing laws requiring doctors to lie to women about the post-abortion cancer risk?


The obvious answer is "because they're assholes who will brush aside inconvenient facts in favor of a backward agenda," a conclusion that becomes even more frustrating when you understand the history behind the myth, and it's endless, dishonest resurrection.

According to a piece by Elaine Schattner over at Slate, doctors first surmised that there must be a link between abortion and breast cancer when cases of the big C skyrocketed in the decade after Roe v. Wade. As anyone who has had a conversation with a pedant who has taken a statistics class knows, correlation does not equal causation, and soon the tenuous link was debunked and by the 90's scientists had more or less concluded that there was no tie between abortion and breast cancer. But then people who want to outlaw abortion under the guise that they care about women decided that what was best for women was to perpetuate the lie that abortion would give them cancer, even though it morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably will not. So, in 1997, scientists sighed, put on their science hats, analyzed data of 1.5 million women in Denmark and found no link between pregnancy termination and breast cancer. Nonetheless, the myth persisted, and in 2002, after a public bicker battle, the National Cancer Institute convened a group that involved "geneticists, epidemiologists, oncologists, and other experts" to determine thrice and for all, if abortion and breast cancer were linked. Once again, no link.

That hasn't stopped anti-abortion rights legislators from pushing laws requiring that women be told the God Will Strike You Down By The Tits, You Murderous Harridan lie before having abortions. The legislature in Kansas just passed a law requiring doctors to inform them that abortion will give them breast cancer, even though it won't. New Hampshire's House passed a similar measure, and a law to that effect is already in force in Texas. As Schattner notes, many of these mandatory lie laws are hidden behind the guise of being for women's benefit, for their empowerment. They're called the Women's Right to Know Act, labeled as Informed Consent laws, touted as another way that the state can Protect Women. But they're really enforcing scare tactics and faleshood.

Oh, irony. It's mildly irritating when hipsters intentionally overdo it, and downright maddening when legislators unintentionally do it. Lying to women isn't "protecting them," it's, uh, lying to them. Deliberately obscuring facts and not trusting people to make decisions for themselves isn't informing or empowering, it's paternalistically condescending. It's like that scene in Lost when The Others convince Sawyer that they've implanted him with a chip that will cause his chest cavity to explode if his heart beats too fast. That's the sort of love women have gotten from anti-abortion rights legislators. The sort of care and protection that involves lying.



bullshit reservoir is full

If a person really, truly believes that abortion is murder (as many claim to) then it makes sense for them to push laws stopping it. For them, it's not a matter of privacy or choice, it's an open and shut case of closing a loophole in the law that allows murder. If they have to lie and cheat to do it, so be it. They believe they're doing the right thing.

For this group, there is no argument you can possibly present that will get them to stop other than one that convinces them it isn't murder because criminalizing murder is so obviously the only just thing to do.

All the facts and figures and rhetoric in the world mean nothing so long as their initial belief holds, and so that is what you must change. Good luck with that. It is my understanding that a large percentage of these people are proud of the solidity of their beliefs and celebrate how stubborn they are in their convictions.