No, Texas, abortion does not cause breast cancer

Dec 7, 2016 at 11:58 a.m. ET
Image: Choja/Getty Images

If the recent trend of fake news isn’t alarming enough, now the Texas Department of Health is getting in on the action, releasing a booklet falsely claiming that abortion could increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Just so we’re clear, there is research on this, and it does not show this link.

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The handy pamphlet of misinformation, called “Women’s Right to Know,” is required to be given to a woman at least 24 hours before a scheduled abortion according to Texas state law. Naturally, it includes specific details on the potential risks to the fetus and mother during an abortion procedure, and — surprisingly — possible complications associated with giving birth.

While anything related to reproductive rights can be controversial, there is one particular part of the pamphlet that is especially problematic — the part that says that those who have an abortion are more likely to get breast cancer than those who give birth.

Again, that is not correct.

In fact, the American Cancer Society explicitly states, “the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.”

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In an email to the Washington Post, Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said that the pamphlet was written to be “helpful, user friendly and medically accurate, and we carefully studied the medical and scientific research available to us along the way.”

Except, it’s not medically accurate.

“In the end,” Williams told the Washington Post, “it’s about making sure pregnant women have access to the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves.”

Correct sentiment, wrong facts.

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