Abortion-breast cancer message muted
PHILADELPHIA – Local pro-lifers have lost a freedom of speech case involving public displays of posters warning of the abortion-breast cancer link.
In a late August decision, a Pennsylvania court ruled that signs posted at Philadelphia and Washington area bus shelters warning of the risk were “misleading and likely to cause undue public alarm.”
The posters, sponsored by a group called Christ’s Bride ministries, read: “Women who choose abortion suffer more and deadlier breast cancer.”
The posters had initially been approved as public service advertisements by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA). They appeared for a number of weeks earlier this summer, but civic officials in Philadelphia and Washington eventually bowed to pressure from pro-abortion groups and had the posters ripped down.
Christ’s Bride Ministries challenged the city’s action as a violation of freedom of speech.
“The ruling comes as a big disappointment,” said Dr. Joel Brind of Baruch College (City University of New York). Dr. Brind, a leading authority on the abortion-breast cancer link, appeared in court on behalf of Christ’s Bride Ministries. “We thought we would win this case on a freedom of speech grounds. We’ve become familiar with attempts to discredit our research, but we didn’t expect the court would find these posters misleading.”
Research since l957 has increasingly indicated a positive association between first-time induced abortion and breast cancer. A number of cancer research and women’s organizations, however, have disputed the claims and suggested evidence of the abortion-breast cancer link is inconclusive at best.
Pro-life supporters, including Dr. Brind, contend the research is being suppressed or discredited because it runs counter to feminist claims that abortion is a completely safe option for women dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.
Dr. Brind also expressed concern over the Food and Drug Administration’s recent move to approve the RU-486 abortion pill for use in the United States. The French-developed abortifacient was approved in July by an FDA advisory committee. It now requires approval by the full FDA commission before coming into widespread use sometime in l997.
“If the FDA is going to approve RU-486, they should at least warn women of the long-term risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Brind said. He said pro-life organizations will continue to lobby Congressional leaders in an attempt to have the approval delayed or overturned.
“There has been a deplorable lack of public scrutiny into this entire process,” Dr. Brind said.
Canada’s ministry of health is also considering a plan to begin RU-486 testing.
A proposal to sponsor RU-486 clinical trials was forwarded to the federal government in the spring by the British Columbia health ministry