Backpedalling and finger pointing while spinning like a top

It’s finally sunk in, apparently, that the long-claimed link between having an abortion and breast cancer simply doesn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Forced-birthers are backing away from the claim that there is a direct link BUT don’t cheer too fast: they’re staunchly proclaiming that feminists are still teh eevil indirectly!

Here’s one Karen Malec revealing The Dangerous Masquerade of the Feminist Majority Foundation

“If Smeal et al. had the slightest concern for women’s health, they would never have initiated a despicable attack on crisis pregnancy centers that serve pregnant mothers, in part, by warning them about the grave health risks associated with abortion.

“Telling women the truth about the abortion-breast cancer link is as bad for business as telling consumers about the risks of smoking. Whether it’s Big Abortion or Big Tobacco, making money is more important to them than protecting consumer health.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. If, as standard medical texts say, delaying a first full term pregnancy, childlessness, little or no breastfeeding and small family size put women at much greater risk for the disease, then the young woman who has an abortion has a greater risk than does the one who has a baby. The woman who aborts forfeits the protective effect of childbearing.

Why isn’t Ms Malec trumpeting the good news about early childbearing to all young woman, that they should be planning to have their first child by age 25, and that doing otherwise puts them at increased risk of developing breast cancer? Why does she only care about making sure that young women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy get this crucial information? What does she think about older women who come to the crisis pregnancy centres with an unplanned pregnancy – does it not matter because it’s already too late, so they might as well go ahead? What about the older women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy who already have children and are considering an abortion this time? Are they safe to go ahead in Ms Malec’s eyes?

Of course not. It’s a very specious limb she’s crawled out on there to wave this argument from (ETA) as well as an ignorant conflation of correlation and causation.

Let me guess that Ms Malec isn’t a fan of contraception that delays a young woman’s first full term pregnancy or limits her family size either. In fact, like many “pro-lifers”, she’s probably against a lot of reproductive health programs that have been shown to reduce the number of abortions by increasing women’s knowledge of contraceptive options and providing public financial support for young families and single mothers, even though as Jill writes today in an excellent post, an increasing number of moderates have realised that such programs do indeed decrease actual abortions, and for their pains are being called traitors by the hardline anti-choicers. Again the dissonance between claims of wanting to prevent abortion and opposing programs which do actually decrease abortion rears its muddled head. It’s almost as if the hard-liners are more interested in something else than the actual number of abortions, isn’t it? Jill’s post is Highly Recommended Reading.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, health, language

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14 replies

  1. I do hope Malec is voting for the party more likely to give these putative legions of young pregnant women access to maternity leave, childcare, maternity and pediatric healthcare, and further education options; and the one more likely to make early diagnosis and decent cancer treatment accessible for all women.
    …No? How odd.

  2. “Why isn’t Ms Malec trumpeting the good news about early childbearing to all young woman, that they should be planning to have their first child by age 25, and that doing otherwise puts them at increased risk of developing breast cancer?”
    This is misleading unscientific rubbish. There is no known causal link between breast cancer and late childbearing.

  3. Indeed Ms Malec’s claims are misleading rubbish. I was pointing out that even by her own logic she’s not following through in terms of awareness -raising unless she’s telling *all* young women about these alleged benefitis of early child rearing, not just the already pregnant ones.

  4. so you didn’t mean to imply that there is an established causal link between developing breast cancer and late pregnancy?

  5. sorry, I mean late aged childbearing – or whatever is the more elegant term?

  6. @ Bub:
    Bub, I was merely pointing out that she needs to learn to logic, as they say.

  7. well, I am sorry, but the post reads as if it is an established fact that there is a causal link between developing breast cancer and late childbearing. This is a worry as it is crap and there is too much crap surrounding the issue of breast cancer.

  8. @ Bub:
    There are peer-reviewed studies showing an epidemiological correlation between late or nil childbearing and increased incidences of breast cancer, which are the source of the information Malec is misusing in her statement. Malec has certainly leaped straight into the correlation-causation fallacy here.
    I’ve added a clause to the post to make it clear that a correlation-causation confusion is present.

  9. yeah, I didn’t know that but I am sure there are such peer reviewed studies tigtog.
    Jeez, such studies make me angry. But, heh, got to give meaningless, if not socially deceptive work to our expensively trained scientists, I guess.
    My favourite epid. study on propensity to develop breast cancer was the one based on height. Taller women are also said by peer reviewed studies to have a greater likelihood of developing b.c. Wow. Such rigour.

  10. Bub: Right now, I believe that what is known is that there is a consistent and strong correlation between later or no childbearing and breast cancer; and that there is physiological plausibility to a connection. Early menarche, late menopause, and long periods of HRT are also associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer. A basic listing of the current state of knowledge about risk factors can be found here at the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre.
    How much of those connections is due to un-controlled-for or un-controllable-for confounders, I don’t know. Epidemiological studies in areas like this do make efforts to control for obvious confounders like age, SES, smoking, alcohol, etc. Do you have some data, or hypotheses?
    None of this is to say that women should be pressured to child-bear at times that they do not choose to, in case that’s not a SotBO. (And if tigtog would prefer this subthread conversation go elsewhere, I’m fine with that too.)

  11. Lauredhel, there has been very little discussion in Australia – and this is an ethical question in and of itself – 0f the problematics of dominant clinical research focus on what can be categorised as predispositions to breast cancer. Similarly, there has been little, certainly way insufficient public discussion of the known – or at least persuasively argued – problematics of the efficacy and usefulness of mass breast screening programs and their clinical followups, surgical interventions and therapies.
    This is all the more worrying given that there does exist a very important if minority stream of clinical, experiential and political critique of both coming out of Britain and Scandanavian countries in particular for at least a decade.
    Like many, I am outraged that incidental or at the very least secondary physical or other individual characteristics are constantly elevated and publicised as being predisposing factors in the likelihood of women developing breast cancer. This is all the more outrageous and objectionable in the absence of effectively zero publicly funded research into larger and far more significant, if hard to prove, environmental causes which commonsense and history, at least, would suggest are primary.

  12. …one of the commenters on Jill’s post makes me want to scream. All you have to do if you don’t want an abortion is *not* get knocked up! Well, shit, why didn’t anyone think of that?! All women have to do is stay celibate their entire lives, and we wouldn’t have an abortion problem! Oh, and courtesy of another commenter, we discover that it’s not taking care of adult women that reduces abortion, it’s all the cute little crisis pregnancy center tricks and lies that do!
    Grrr. Stop the world, I want to get off. Living in a walled compound is just sounding better and better.
    slave2tehtink’s last blog post..Oh yeah, *now* I remember.

  13. Damn that Big Abortion industry! Just like tobacco had Joe Camel, I remember being taken in by Alison, the Abortion Aardvark… She looked so cool! And all the billboards I would see showing her having fun playing pool, on the beach, surrounded by sexy guys. I couldn’t wait to get pregnant so I could have an abortion! And all those fatcat abortion executives were suppressing the ling to breast cancer! And they STILL don’t have to put a warning message on my womb! When will congress get involved? Won’t somebody please think of the children?

  14. What struck me when reading the hard-line ‘pro-life’ comments on Jill’s post was the antagonism to more general social and economic support for poor women. I got the feeling that denying access to abortion is one in a suite of measures aimed at controlling women, and denying economic security is another. I definitely did not get the feeling that the commentators cared about children’s lives, which would be improved by social programs and ending poverty. But then, I guess the ‘unborn’ are a category in and of themselves, and get a lot less interesting once they are born and can’t be used as a rhetorical device for this particular debate.

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