Friday, November 19, 2010

Anti-Abortion Lies

Thursday morning I checked my Drew email and found this email:

Dear All,

Drew Students For Life with the Morris County Right to Life will make available pro-life pamphlets to the Drew Community. This brochure under the name "You Can Stop Injustice" educates all students when life begins, what are the emotional, physical, as well as psychological impact of abortions. This pamphlet has scientific information that links abortion to an increased rate of breast cancer and that abortions affects poor minorities the most.

All are welcome to read the pamphlets including pro-choice students to help understand the pro-life side.

We hope you enjoy the pamphlets.

I don't know where these pamphlets will be available. I don't know anything about this group, it seems to be new, and I think it is an undergrad group. What I do know is that when I read this email, I was livid, particularly because the email itself states the lie that abortion is linked to breast cancer unashamedly. I can only imagine what the pamphlets themselves say.

Abortion is not linked to breast cancer, yet I don't know how many times this has been shouted at me by anti-abortion extremists, I don't know how many times I've read it on websites for so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (see also, the U.S> House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform's 2006 special investigation [PDF] on federally funded pregnancy resource centers), I don't know how many times I've heard it even from generally well-meaning pro-life people. But it is a lie. Medical consensus is that abortion is not linked to, does not cause, breast cancer . What I have been told by anti-abortionists is that because the development of milk in the breast is cut abruptly short by an abortion, it leads to breast cancer later in life. This is absurd.

In fact, one time my friend Jess and I were counter-protesting outside a clinic and, though you are not supposed to engage anti-abortion protesters because they are often violent, Jess finally was so curious she had to ask, "So do women who miscarry also have a higher risk of breast cancer?" And the guy said to her, "Oh no, God protects those women." Of course. Because God's an asshole.

One of the reasons that this kind of behavior makes me to angry is that if your cause is so noble and moral you should not have to lie to women to convince them to agree with you. This is a little problem the Right in general has, however (see the Tea Party, anti-gay rhetoric, and anti-health care rhetoric as well), and yet few people are willing to call them out on it. As Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini write in Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, we won't call people out because in this country the "enemy" is not unethical, unjust behavior like the way the Right lies to try to convert people to their cause; no, the problem is rather "extremism," being seen as too far to either side. Thus, we are forced to tolerate this "two sides to every story" mentality to keep from appearing as though we are siding with one group over another.

However, as can be seen in this case, there are not "two sides" to this story. On the one hand, you have a lie that abortion cause breast cancer. On the other you have a medically established reality that that is not the case. However, pointing out the lie implicates you as being too partial.

The bottom line is that people can be pro-life all they want. But when they lie in order to encourage women not to have abortions, then we need to stand up and reject those lies instead of being cowed into saying "well, that's just the other side to the story."


*In this blog I go back and forth between pro-life and anti-abortion, but they mean different things to me and I was trying to capture the different meanings when I used them in different ways. I use anti-abortion to refer to extremists who kill or want to doctors and who picket abortion clinics and hurl hateful insults at the women who enter them. Hate is not pro-life.


  1. thanks for posting this. i, too, was rather pissed about that email.

  2. Ok- So, as with everything else in life- there will always be extremists (and moderates). That email was obviously extremist. I do not support abortions (we've discussed this countless times) but in no way is it acceptable to make false statements to get a point across. I don't care if you are left or right- if you are presenting information to the masses, it needs to be correct.

    And cancer is caused by a mutation within a gene cell...