Breast cancer

Since 1957, twenty-seven studies conducted in all parts of the world, of which 11 « statistically significant » (particularly weighty), have shown that pregnancy termination involves an average 30% increased risk of breast cancer 1 . Two scientific phenomena can explain this risk increase.

Firstly, the simple fact of retarding the first term pregnancy, a frequent effect of pregnancy termination, is universally recognized as an important risk factor for breast cancer. Conversely, a first pregnancy that is brought to term is universally recognized as the best protection possible against breast cancer 2 .

Secondly, pregnancy termination stops the process that was started at the moment of conception of the child and that will naturally end only with the term of the pregnancy, of transformation into lactation glands of the breast cells, which essentially are, prior to the first full term pregnancy, fat cells 3 . This trauma « blocks » the breast cells at the « mutation » (transformation) and « proliferation » (multiplication) stage, which makes them similar to cancer cells, which are « in mutation » and « in proliferation ». It is easy to see how cells in this way programmed are therefore much more vulnerable to the various causes of cancer (e.g. latex rubber 4 , untreated STDs 5 , secondary smoke 6 , pollution, stress, etc.). 

In Canada, the incidence of breast cancer has increased forty percent since 1969, even with adaptaion of the age factor. This increase is the second highest in the world 7 . Yet, forty percent of this increase cannot be explained by any of the officially recognised risk factors 8 . Incidentally, the year which marks the start of this increase in Canada follows immediately that where pregnancy termination was adopted as a generalised public practice. In the light of all the studies showing a link between pregnancy termination and breast cancer, would it be wise to continue to assume that this astonishing coincidence is the fruit of mere chance? Does not the most basic informed require a warning concerning at least the observed possibility of a link with such an important disease?

Studies show women who underwent one or more abortions have cancers that are more aggressive 9 and have a higher relapse rate 10 as well as a lower survival rate 11 . Indeed, those Canadian provinces with the highest abortion rates also have the highest breast cancer incidence rates. The lowest breast cancer incidence rate belongs to Prince Edward Island, where abortions are not performed 12 . And it is effectively in those countries where abortion is illegal, like  Mexico and Egypt¾and yet where pollution is highest¾ have the lowest breast cancer mortality rates 13 .

At least eleven American states are considering adopting legislative measures so that women may be informed of the increased risk of breast cancer that pregnancy termination involves. Three states have already adopted « informed consent » laws 14 .

Certain cancer institutes do not recognize a link of causality between pregnancy termination and breast cancer. In no way can, and do they, deny, however, that an important link (« correlation ») (statistically significant) has been observed between the two.

Other observed consequences of pregnancy termination

Infertility (2-5% of cases) 15, 16, 17

Cervical, ovarian and liver cancer (4-fold risk increase) 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) (4% of cases) 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

Suicide (2-7-fold risk increase) 30, 31

Subsequent pregnancies 

Spontaneous abortion (2-3-fold risk increase) 32

Ectopic pregnancy (8-fold risk increase) 33, 34, 35, 36

Cervical incompetence and prematurity/stillbirth (2-3-fold risk increase) 37, 38, 39, 40, 41

Caesarean delivery, handicapped, ill or malformed child (7-15 fold risk increase) 42

"Post-Abortion Syndrome " ("PAS")

Post-abortion symptoms are now identified in medical literature as "Post-Abortion Syndrome," or PAS. The American Psychiatric Association has identified abortion as a "psycho-social stressor" that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.

"55% of women who underwent abortion suffer nightmares about the experience; 58% have suicidal thoughts that they relate totheir abortion; 79% feel guilty; 63% are concerned about their future pregnancies." (Burke, Teresa, psychotherapist, Frobidden Grief : The Unspoken Pain of Abortion,  2006 ; Fergusson, D.M., et al, « Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health », Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47 (1) :16-24, 2006 ; Throckmorton, W., « Abortion and Mental Health », Washington Times, January 21, 2005 ; David., H., "Retrospectives From the APA Task Force to Division 34", Population and Environmental Psychology Bulletin, 1999, 25(3):2-3 ; Barnard, C.A., The Long-Term Psycho-social effects of Abortion, Portsmouth, N.H., Institute for Pregnancy Loss, 1990; Anderson, RL, et al, "Methodological considerations in empirical research on abortion", in Post-Abortion Syndrome: Its Wide Ramifications, ed. P. Doherty, Portland:Four Courts Press, 1995, p. 103-115; Strahan, T. W., ed., Detrimental Effects of Abortion, 2001, Acorn Books, Springfield, Il.; Ring-Cassidy, E. and I. Gentiles, Women's Health After Abortion, DeVeber Institute, 2002, Toronto; Gray, K. and A. Lassance. Grieving Reproductive Loss, Baywood Publishing, Amityville, N.Y., 2003.

In an article, "The Familial Context of Induced Abortion" (Restoring the Right to Life, ed. J. Bopp, Provo, Utah, 1984) Professor Vincent Rue, an authority on the subject, lists characteristics of PAS as: guilt, anger, fear, depression, grief, anxiety, sadness, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, sorrow, lowered self-esteem, distrust, hostility toward self and others, regret, insomnia, recurring dreams, nightmares, anniversary reactions, suicidal behaviour, alcohol and/or chemical dependencies, sexual dysfunction, insecurity, numbness, painful re-experiencing of the abortion, relationship disruption, communication impairment, isolation, foetal fantasies, self-condemnation, flashbacks, uncontrollable weeping, eating disorders, pre-occupation, distorted thinking, bitterness and a sense of loss and emptiness in association with one or several abortions.

Also according to Dr. Rue, the most common feelings experienced by women who have undergone abortions seem to be unresolved grief, denial, anger and guilt. The most likely PAS sufferers are teenagers, women who have second-trimester abortions, women with low self-esteem and those with prior emotional problems.

In The Psycho-Social Aspects of Stress Following Abortion (Sheed and Ward, Kansas City, 1987), author Anne Speckhard lists the ten most commonly reported reactions to abortion:

  • grief reactions (100 percent)
  • feelings of depression (92 percent)
  • feelings of anger (92 percent)
  • feelings of guilt (92 percent)
  • fear that others would learn of the pregnancy and abortion (89 percent)
  • surprise at the intensity of the emotional reaction to the abortion (85 percent)
  • feelings of lowered self worth (81 percent)
  • feelings of victimization (81 percent)
  • decreased effectiveness, or suppressed ability to experience pain (73 percent)
  • feelings of discomfort around infants and small children (73 percent).

What women really feel at the deepest level about abortion is different from what they say on the surface. In-depth psychotherapy has revealed that, even for those who felt abortion was their only option, women may feel deep pain and deep rejection of the abortion experience.

In their article "Psychological Effects of Induced Abortion," published in Abortion's Aftermath, (Human Life Research Institute, Toronto, 1987) researchers Mary Parthun and Anne Kiss conclude: "Review of a wide range of psychological and medical literature indicates that negative post-abortion psychological sequelae are a phenomenon worthy of consideration. Transient, short-term distress is common and more serious long-term effects occur...We can expect increasing numbers of women to seek help for post-abortal grief and distress. It is heartening that health care workers from a variety of professions are responding to the needs of these women. However, there may be many more who remain unrecognized and unhelped. Unfortunately, few of the professionals involved in carrying out abortions are the ones approached by the distressed women after abortion. Hence, there is a great need for all involved in abortions to be aware of the serious problem of post-abortion psychological sequelae."

Self-help groups for women suffering from PAS are being organized in all parts of Canada. Other groups, including pro-life nurses, professional counsellors and pro-life organizations also provide post-abortion counselling. Perhaps because of this help, the number of women willing to speak out on the negative effects of abortion is growing dramatically.

"There has been almost a conspiracy of silence in declaring [abortion's] risks. Unfortunately, because of emotional reactions to legal abortion, well documented evidence from countries with a vast experience of it, receives little or no attention in either the medical or lay press. This is medically indefensible when patients suffer as a result...It is significant that some of the more serious complications occurred with the most senior and experienced operators..." (Stallworthy, J.A., et al., "Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment of Risk," The Lancet, December 4, 1971).

"Of the 252 women surveyed, approximately one-half complained of suffering from at least one type of physical complication following their abortions. Moreover, at least 18 percent of those surveyed reported having suffered permanent physical damage traceable to the procedure...Of the 47 percent who reported suffering from a complication, 40 percent said it was a very minor problem, 26 percent said it was moderately severe, and 35 percent claimed that it was very severe...Of the short term complications, the most frequently identified was post-operative haemorrhage, noted by 15 percent of all women surveyed. Infection was the second most likely complication, reported by 9 percent of those surveyed...Of the aborted women surveyed, approximately 6 percent were forced to undergo a total hysterectomy to remove a uterus that had been damaged or infected by the abortion procedure. Another 8 percent reported that post-abortion infection had left them sterile by blocking their fallopian tubes or through some other means. Yet another 4 percent contracted cervical cancer, which they attribute to the abortion...Besides suffering sterility from the above causes, many aborted women suffer a reduced ability to carry a later wanted pregnancy to term. Of the women surveyed, approximately 20 percent later suffered miscarriage of a wanted child. In addition, no less than 8 percent were diagnosed as suffering from cervical incompetence after their abortions. Other birthing problems and reproductive damage were frequently reported." (Reardon, David C., Aborted Women: Silent No More, pp. 22-25, Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1987).

"The younger the patient, the greater the gestation, the higher the complication rate...Some of the most catastrophic complications occur in teenagers." (Bulfin, J., M.D., OB.-GYN Observer, Oct.-Nov., 1975).

" amount of rationalization, intellectualization or humanistic considerations can relieve the overwhelming guilt which is present at the unconscious level as a result of an abortion. Furthermore, much of what we encounter at the conscious level regarding the feelings which patients report about abortion represents denial, displacement or rationalization, and we find it rather strange that so many professionals are misled by these commonly employed defensive procedures. (Maddox and Sexton, "The Rising Cost of Abortion," Medical Hypoanalysis, page 67, Spring, 1980).

 "There is no doubt that the termination of a pregnancy may precipitate a serious psychoneurotic or even psychotic reaction in a susceptible individual." (World Health Organization, Technical Report Series, "Scientific Group on Spontaneous and Induced Abortion," Geneva, 1970).

« Medical », « chemical » or « non-surgical » abortion

Medical abortion is practised illegally in Canada through the use of the chemical products Methothrexate and Misoprostol. By inducing violent uterine cramps coupled with the calcination of the child through fourth-degree burns, the child dies at the end of a period ranging between one week and  44 days and is eventually expulsed from the uterus at an unpredictable moment and place (e.g. while walking in the street, going to the washroom, etc.). Gynecologist Ellen Wiebe, of Vancouver, who has publicly admitted for many years now to performing chemical abortions, demands the legalisation of chemical abortion using the « RU 486 » (chemical product called « mifepristone »), of which the damaging effects and mechanism are identical to the chemical abortions using the current products, but of which the period of intense suffering for both mother and child is somewhat reduced to more or less one week. Dr Wiebe enumerates the health risks related to both techniques as follows: intense haemorrhaging ; 'horrible' cramp, and 'only a handful of deaths' 43 .

Humanity of the unborn child

The great majority of abortions are performed between the eighth and twelfth weeks of gestation  44 . Yet, as early as the seventh week of gestation, one can clearly see, with ultrasound, the unborn child in the uterus suck its thumb, cry, yawn, scratch, stretch, do somersaults, etc. 45 . Assimilate this child to a simple "ball of cells", a "tadpole" or a "little chick", would be scientifically inaccurate. No longer a question of theology or philosophy, progress in the science of genetics, coupled with elementary notions in biology and embryology, as well as technological progress have now made it possible to establish that the unborn child, from conception, truly is a real baby, a little boy or a little girl, a complete individual that is entirely distinct from its mother 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64 .

Pain in the unborn child

Studies have so established the capacity of the unborn child to feel pain that in 1987, the American Academy of Paediatrics stated that it was no longer ethical to perform surgeries on children born prematurely without anaesthesia. This statement followed the groundbreaking results obtained in a study published by Dr Anand, as described below 65 .

Dr Anand, professor at the Harvard University School of Medicine, has shown that pain in newborns elicits physiological responses that are identical to those found in adults: rise in blood pressure; accelerated heartbeat; sleep disorders; eating disorders; lowered efficiency of the immune system. He deplored that the medical community continued to evaluate pain in the unborn based on motor reactions (movements, or « non-reflexive aversive reactions » like crying, grimacing and avoidance motions, this all at the same time), the latter only being possible when the physiological capacity necessary for movements are well formed and/or intact and functional. He deplored that recent data concerning the mechanisms of pain perception, or "nociceptive activity", in the unborn child, be still ignored.

In his article, Dr Anand cancels one of the assumed anatomical requirements for pain perception long quoted as reason to believe that the unborn child feels no pain, that is the absence of myelination or incomplete myelination. "Myelination" is the wrapping around nerve canals of a thick protective coating allowing for the transmission of electrical nerve impulses. Anand indicates that recent studies have allowed to establish that non-myelination or partial myelination are not synonymous with non-transmission of nervous impulses but rather with a slowing down of the latter. Even in adults, it has been found that pain can be transmitted in non-myelinised or thinly myelinised nerves. In addition, it has been found that the slowing down of the signals by absent or incomplete myelination in the unborn child is counterbalanced by the shorter distance between neurons and muscles.

The Anand study was definitive: compared to newborns who had only received paralysing medications (and so no painkillers) during surgery, newborns who had undergone surgery and who been given the painkiller « fentanyl » had clearly superior outcomes in terms of complications recovery period. At last, someone had proven that young babies felt pain and that this pain had serious health consequences, a fact that until that point had been contested by the medical community, which still refused to anesthetise young children during surgery or other painful medical procedures. Pain perception in children was deemed "uncertain" and "unimportant" because "the child would not remember it". There were also hesitations concerning appropriate dosage so as not to endanger the child 66, 67 .

Cerebral cortex

Functional maturity of a cerebral cortex was for a long time suggested as a criteria for the capacity of the unborn child to feel pain. Yet, in 1984, Dr Vincent J. Collins, reputed anaesthesiologist and Fellow of the American Board of Anaesthesiologists, author of Principles of Anaesthesiology, textbook used for the teaching of anaesthesiology, published what follows: « The presence of a functional cortex is in no way necessary for pain sensation. Even the total suppression of the cortex does not eliminate pain sensation, and no part of the cortex, when artificially stimulated, results in pain sensation. It therefore follows that neither the presence of the cortex nor the transmission of pain impulses to the latter are essential to pain sensation. When the cortex (which develops and functions later in gestation than the thalamus) participates in the pain reaction, the latter generates an aversive behaviour that adds psychological and cognitive components to pain sensation. »

« The required structures for pain sensation are therefore « nociceptors » [sensory detection cells], a  continued neuronal channel of sensory nerves that transmit pain impulses from the nociceptors throughout the peripheral nervous system and the spinal cord leading to the thalamus, and the thalamus. The thalamus is located at the top of the spinal cord and of the cerebral trunk but underneath the cerebral cortex. The neuronal structures necessary for pain sensation re in place as early as the eight week of gestation. As early as the end of the fifth week, a tap on the mouth of the embryo will make him bring his lip backwards. » 68

In an open letter dated February 13, 1984, to then President of the United States Ronald Reagan, twenty-six experts in maternal and fotal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and anaesthesiology from various universities in the United States stated what follows: « Modern progress in terms knowledge and technology - ultrasound; foetoscopy; electrocardiogram and encephalogram foetal studies - show beyond the shadow of a doubt that the fotus can feel pain. The cortex is developed between the fourth and fifth week; brain waves are detectable between the sixth and seventh week; the nerves connecting the spinal cord and the peripheral structures are developed between the sixth and the eighth week » 69 .

In the letter, Dr Richard T.F. Schmidt, past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, states: « It can be clearly shown that the fotus seeks to avoid certain stimuli exactly the same way that would a young child or an adult. »

In 1994, Dr Vivette Glover, researcher with the Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea hospitals, in London, England, published that since the work of Dr Anand, anaesthesiology of newborns had become the norm. Dr Glover deplored however that the practice not be applied to the unborn child: « We have observed that the fotus reacts to the introduction of an intrahepathic [blood transfusion] needle  with vigorous body and breathing movements which are not observed during the insertion of a needle in the umbilical cord. We have observed a rise in cortisol and beta-endorphin [hormones released in reaction to pain] concentrations in the fotus following the direct activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis." 70 .

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of the United Kingdom formed a work group to study pain in the unborn child. The report of the work group, published in October 1997, indicates that there exists a « very real possibility that the capacity for pain sensation in the unborn child be more pronounced that in the adult due to the later development of the pain inhibition system (secretion of painkiller hormones serotonin, norepinephrin and dopamine) in relation to the system of pain perception » 71 .

In 1999, the United Kingdom Health Department asked the UK Medical Research Council to study any progress in foetal pain research. The 11-member group, chaired by Dr Eve Johnston Edinburgh University, published its conclusion as follows: « There exists no moment when one can state in all certainty that the unborn child does not feel pain. Also, it is not generally established what parts of the brain must have reached maturity before a fotus can feel pain. The unborn child does in fact react with vigorous movement when submitted to painful stimuli. The evidence obtained to this day that pain in the unborn child leads to important sequelae for the ulterior well-being of this person merits that further research » 72

For pregnancy termination, Canadian law on informed consent, that is the body of decisions made by the courts on this matter, or "tort law", stipulates that the mechanism of death of the child must be explained to he mother 73 . Most often, the death of the child will come about after 10 to 20 minutes of dismemberment (« curettage ») 74 . If the death is inflicted by calcination (4th degree burns, by « medical » or « chemical » abortion), the latter can last up to 44 days, during which the woman will feel the child move vigorously from the pain until it is expulsed, calcinated, through massive uterine cramps 75 . the death can also inflicted in he form of a massive heart attack following an injection in the heart o potassium chloride, if the child is still living outside of the mother's body 76 , or by the crushing of the cranium, before the head of the child has proceeded outside of the mother's body and the suctioning of its contents (« partial birth abortion ») 77

In Canada, the Criminal Code stipulates that one can take the life of a child at any stage of pegnancy until birth, for any reason 78 . Canada is one of the rare countries in the world not to have a law on abortion. Abortion is therefore « decriminalised » but not « legalised ». In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the 1968 law on abortion unconstitutional because the therapeutic committees it required imposed too much of a delay fro women and in this way posed too much of a threat for their health and their life (the latter the abortion is performed, the more complications arise). The Supreme Court asked Parliament to redo the law, which was never done. A law limiting abortion to cases where the life of the mother would truly be threatened could have prevented that around one hundred thousand women and children suffer through abortion in Canada each year, this often against their will following pressures from their entourage. A great number of cases o breast cancer and infertility could in this way have been avoided, amongst other problems. Today, a political law supporting a woman's right to informed consent would at least limit some of the damages of abortion.

As pregnancy termination constitutes a lucrative industry where some private clinics in Canada generate more than 11 million dollars per year in gross revenues 79 , is it realistic to expect that these businesses will honour the requirements of informed consent by honestly informing their prospective clients of the established health risks of their "service"? Should there not b an autonomous not-or-profit body instituted by government to support a woman's right to informed consent in case of difficult pregnancy, an organisation that a woman would have an obligation to consult prior to abortion so as to know each one of the possible options - pregnancy support ; mentoring ; adoption ; pregnancy termination - and the risks and advantages of each?