Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer
Press Release
Contact: Karen Malec, 847-421-4000
Date: July 27, 2006

National Academies of Science: Abortion Linked to Subsequent Premature Birth / Link Supports Abortion as Risk Factor for Breast Cancer

A preliminary report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an organization of the National Academies of Science, lists "first trimester abortion" among the risk factors for premature birth. [1]

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer notes the publication of a paper this month by an IOM committee entitled, "Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention." [2]

The report has huge public policy implications.  Premature birth is associated with cerebral palsy for the child and breast cancer for the mother.

The IOM reported that premature births before 37 weeks gestation represent 12.5 percent of all U.S. births, a 30% increase since 1981.  Abortion became legally accessible in 1973.  The IOM said premature birth cost U.S. society $26.2 billion in 2005.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, an abortion enthusiast, and other Democrats from the House Government Reform Committee issued a report attacking crisis pregnancy centers for informing women about the risks of abortion, including breast cancer, infertility and emotional harm. [3]

The IOM's findings provide further support for an abortion-breast cancer link. 

If, after having had an abortion, a childless woman is unable to carry subsequent pregnancies, then she could remain childless for the remainder of her life. Cancer organizations say childlessness (nulliparity) is a risk factor for breast cancer.

Other research shows that a premature birth before 32 weeks gestation increases the mother's breast cancer risk. [4,5]  The biological reasons for this are the same as for the abortion-cancer link. 

Breast tissue is only matured from cancer-susceptible tissue into cancer resistant tissue during the last eight weeks of a full-term pregnancy. [6]  During this time, women receive protection from estrogen overexposure experienced during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

The World Health Organization provided additional support for an abortion-cancer link last year when it identified combined (estrogen plus progestin) oral contraceptives (OCs) and combined hormone replacement therapy as "Group 1 carcinogens." [7,8]   

Abortion has a disparate impact on adolescents.  Using OCs and/or having an abortion before the birth of a first child are especially carcinogenic. [6]  Teenagers who have abortions have a greater risk for subsequent premature births than do adults because of the higher risk of infection and weakened cervix. [9,10,11,12]

Malcolm Potts, former medical adviser for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, acknowledged in 1967 that abortion has a disparate impact on teenagers' risk of of premature birth. [16]

At least sixty significant studies published since 1963 report an abortion-premature birth link.  [13,14]

The abortion-premature birth link is a double-edged sword for doctors.  Abortion doctors may be sued for causing cerebral palsy, but non-abortion-performing obstetricians can use the IOM's report to defend themselves against cerebral palsy lawsuits.  An Australian court decided in 2004 that Dr. Alan Kaye was not responsible for Kristy Bruce's cerebral palsy because her mother had had an abortion shortly before she became pregnant with Kristy. [15]

Communist Hungary restricted abortions in 1976 after recognizing that post-abortive women have more premature births. [17]

U.S. public policymakers must protect the health of women and children by requiring doctors to inform women of the risks of abortion.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international women's organization founded to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information on abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer.


1. Richard E. Behrman, Adrienne Stith Butler, Editors. Preterm birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention. Committee on Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes. Institute of Medicine. Appendix B, Table 5, p. 519.  Available at:

2. Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention. Press Release. Institute of Medicine, July 13, 2006. Available at: <>.

3. "Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers Mislead Teens about Abortion Risks," July 17, 2006.  Available at: <>.

4. Melbye M, et al. Preterm delivery and risk of breast cancer. Bri J Cancer 1999;80:609-13.

5. Hsieh C-c, Wuu J, Lambe M, Trichopoulos D, et al Delivery of premature newborns and maternal breast-cancer risk. Lancet 1999;353-1239.

6. Lanfranchi A. The breast physiology and the epidemiology of the abortion breast cancer link. Imago Hominis 2005;12(3): 228-236.

7. Cogliano V, Grosse Y, Baan R, Secretan B, El Ghissassi F. Carcinogenicity of combined oestrogen-progestagen contraceptives and menopausal treatment. Lancet Oncology 2005;6:552-553.

8. Press Release No. 167, "IARC Monographs Programme Finds Combined Estrogen-Progestogen Contraceptives (the "pill") and Menopausal Therapy Are Carcinogenic to Humans," World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, July 29, 2005. See <>.

9. Burkman RT, Milagros FA, King TM. Morbidity Risk Among Young Adolescents Undergoing Elective Abortion. Contraception 1984;30(2):99-105.

10. Schulz KF, Grimes DA, Cates W. Measures to Prevent Cervical Injury During Suction Curettage Abortion. Lancet 1993 (28 May):1182-1184.

11. Burkman RT, et. al. Culture and treatment results in endometritis following elective abortion. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1997;128:556-563.

12. Avonts D, Piot P. Genital infections in women undergoing induced abortion. European J Obstet Gynecol & Repro Biol 1985;20:53-59.

13. Rooney B, Calhoun B. Induced abortion and risk of later premature births. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2003;8:46-49. Available at:

14. Thorp JM, Hartmann KE, Shadigian EM. Long-term physical and psychological health consequences of induced abortion: A review of the evidence. Obstet & Gynecol Survey 2003;58:1.     

15. Kristy Jane Bruce (by her Tutor Jody Colleen Winbank) v. Alan Lester Kaye; New South Wales Supreme Court; 277 (8 April 2004); file number: 20230/01.  Available at:

16. Potts M. Legal Abortion in Eastern Europe. Eugenics Review 1967;59:232-250.

17. Iffy L. Letter. Obstet Gynecol 1975;45:115-116. Citing: Kovacs J: Nepesedespolitikank nehany kerdese: A kulong utodokert. Magyar Hirek 1973:26;10.