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Abortion law
  Abortion and Breast Cancer
By Victoria Tepe
March 28, 2002

After a three-day trial in state court in the USA, a judge has ruled in favour of the provider of abortion services Red River Women's Clinic (Fargo, ND, USA), asserting that it is reasonable for the clinic to provide patients with information drawn from preeminent cancer research institutes that have concluded there is currently no established link between abortion and breast cancer.

In deciding the Fargo case, Judge Michael McGuire relied on testimony from leading empidemiology and endocriminology experts who confirmed the statements contained in the clinic's brochures.

The case against the clinic had been brought by an anti-abortion protestor who sued the Red River Women's Clinic for false advertising because it distributes pamphlets instructing women that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. The Red River Clinic's brochure says there is 'no established link' between abortion and breast cancer. The clinic originally added this language in response to anti-abortion funded billboards in the Fargo area that warned of such a link. The clinic's brochure language is borrowed from a 1996 National Cancer Institute (NCI) fact sheet. (The NCI's 1999 version states that the evidence is 'inconsistent', although this word is expected to be removed in the next version of the fact sheet, due out any day). 'An examination of the scientific evidence makes it very clear that the overall picture is no increased risk of breast cancer to women who have had abortions', says Patricia Hartge, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

For more information, go to: http://www.crlp.org/special.phpl (The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy has also posted legal briefs and scientific background.)

This case is important because it may set important precedent for related cases involving the issue of abortion and breast cancer. Fifteen states in the US are considering laws that would require women to be informed of a potential link between abortion and breast cancer.

Earlier this month, a judge in California dismissed a similar lawsuit filed against Planned Parenthood of San Diego.

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