Issues

Experts address link between abortion and breast cancer in powerful documentary film

Experts interviewed in the controversial film, “Hush: the Documentary,” which investigates the effects of abortion on women, claim that women aren’t being told the truth about the link between abortion and breast cancer, despite studies that show the claim to be true.

Pro-choice film director Punam Kumar Gill went out of her way to speak with experts on both sides of the debate. “Of all the contested health care risks around abortion, the abortion breast cancer link was especially troubling to me,” she states. According to Gill, at the time the film was produced, there were only five states that required women to be told that there is an increased risk of breast cancer from abortion.

Screenshot via “Hush: the Documentary”

In her team’s attempt to hear all sides, Gill spoke with former abortionist David Grimes, described by her as a “renowned expert” on abortion in the film. Grimes denied a higher risk of breast cancer for women who have had abortions, comparing claims to the contrary to “an old dog that they keep on flogging.” By “they” he means pro-life experts who have published their own studies.

Grimes then claimed that (in his words) the “small group” that “holds these views” tend to “not be physicians” and not “understand what a woman goes through.” He then disdainfully claimed that the “common theme” among these experts is “religiosity.”

Dr Joel Brind

But Grimes apparently didn’t do his homework before making those remarks; as the film also showed, there are several highly credentialed experts who believe that an abortion-breast cancer link is evident.

One of those experts is Dr. Joel Brind, a professor of human biology and endocrinology who has studied the topic extensively. Dr. Brind acknowledged that it is his belief that abortion is not good for women or children, and that although women legally have a choice to have an abortion, the choice should be an informed one.

In his research, Brind reviewed 23 studies (a meta-analysis) and, as the film points out, found a “30 percent increased risk of breast cancer for women with abortion histories.” Dr. Brind, along with three other researchers, published these findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 1996.

Although the group of authors called for additional research on the link, the study concluded in part, “The results support the inclusion of induced abortion among significant independent risk factors for breast cancer, regardless of parity or timing of abortion relative to the first term pregnancy.”

But because Dr. Brind holds a pro-life view on abortion, his work has been largely discounted. “The major criticism against him was because he’s pro-life, his science is questionable, and his findings are part of an anti-abortion agenda to scare women,” the Hush film states.

Dr Joel Brind (Image credit: Hush the Documentary)

But, what isn’t mentioned by critics of Brind’s conclusions on the abortion-breast cancer link is that one of Brind’s co-researchers is pro-choice. Brind says he was unaware of this fact until after the research was published because when they did the research, “their personal views on the subject of abortion never came up,” he explained.

Brind told Gill that author Vernon M. Chinchilli only disclosed his pro-choice views on abortion after the study was complete. Brind explained, “We did all this work together. Hours and hours of working together in studying the data and comparing notes and talking about it, and you know what? Whether he or I or anyone else in the group was pro-life or pro-choice – it never came up.”

“This is about science. This is about the effect on women and whether or not abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Period,” he added.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi and Punam Kumar Gill in Hush the Documentary

Another expert interviewed in the film is Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgeon. She pointed to alarming data that shows a drastic increase in breast cancer among young women, something she said was evident in her practice as a breast surgeon. “There was one month where I saw three young women in their thirties with breast cancer and it was very depressing. And I was trying to figure out why that was happening.”

“The textbooks had information… about one of the risk factors being abortion. And I started asking a complete reproductive history.”

Dr. Lanfranchi recounted discovering that patients with “very aggressive forms of breast cancers” had abortions in their history. She then found out about Dr. Brind’s meta-analysis study, recounting, “I said, okay, it’s just not my random clinical experience.” But Lanfranchi pointed out that over the years, she has discovered that this information “was not going to get out.”

Dr. Ian Gentles in Hush the Documentary

Filmmaker Gill also spoke to Dr. Ian Gentles, a professor at Tyndale University College and a co-author of the book “Complications,” described in the film as the “world’s most comprehensive investigation of abortion and women’s health.”

According to a review of the book published by LifeSiteNews, it “[…] includes over 100 interviews with women who have had abortions… using data gathered from over 650 papers, mostly in medical and psychological journals.” It “concludes that abortion is detrimental in all areas of women’s health, and includes substantive evidence demonstrating the link between abortion and a variety of health problems including breast cancer, infertility, autoimmune disease and mental health problems along with a multitude of other complications.”

“The big physical hazard is breast cancer,” Dr. Gentles told Gill. Gentles stated that there have been many studies that show a “real statistically significant link between abortion and breast cancer.”

Studies show link between abortion breast cancer (via Hush: the Documentary)

“In other words,” Gentles said, “if you have an abortion  – you have a 30 or 40 percent increased chance of coming down with breast cancer later. And this has been established in studies all over the world, not just in the United States, but also France, China, Japan, India, which have documented that indeed there is a higher rate of breast cancer among women who have abortions.”

Gill made it clear at the end of her documentary that she remains in favor of abortion, but believes women should be informed about potential risks such as breast cancer. The “Hush” production team claims to have made every effort to speak with experts across the political and ideological spectrum as well as medical organizations which study breast cancer risks. But Gill found that these groups were silent and refused requests to go on film to defend their findings.

“Those who completely deny any long-term risks have artfully shut down the conversation,” Gill concluded in the film. “Because they fear if they conceded the procedure has adverse effects, abortion will be banned. Meanwhile, nonpartisan researchers run for cover from cross fire.”

Gill added, “It’s true the long-term health risks associated with abortion are generally promoted by those who want abortion gone. But this did not make the information untrue.”

The pro-choice filmmaker expressed her desire for women to get all the information they need to make healthy decisions about their own lives. “Although I still believe in a woman’s right to abortion,” she said, “I don’t see abortion as liberating as I once assumed it was. At least not for the women who’ve experienced adverse physical and psychological effects.”

If abortion is going to be legal and women are to have the freedom to choose it, “they should also have the right to know,” Gill stated. “Women facing an unplanned pregnancy deserve health information that is not clouded by religion, fear, or politics.”

Be informed. Review the information for yourself.

Author’s Note: “Hush: the Documentary” is published by Mighty Truth Productions Inc. and is available for purchase here.

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