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From the desk of Dan Zanoza

Mainstream media does its best to downplay the possible Abortion/Breast Cancer link

NEW YORK, NY (RFM NEWS)--In the March 12th edition of Newsweek, staff writer David France reported on the facts surrounding a possible link between abortion and breast cancer.

The Newsweek article portrayed the connection between abortion and breast cancer as being nothing more than a political tool used by pro-life advocates in the fight against abortion.

France called the issue a "novel legal push." The Newsweek reporter also quoted an American Medical Association board member and another source from the American Cancer society who did not see a link between abortion and breast cancer.

David France's reluctance to tell both sides of this story is indicative of the wider media's handling of the issue. RFM NEWS reviewed press coverage of the possible connection between abortion and breast cancer during the last year. The results paint what some say is a troubling picture of the media's refusal to address an issue that may have an impact on the lives of millions of women. Critics of the press point to France's methods of reporting to illustrate their claims of media bias.

France interviewed Dr. Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and one of the foremost international authorities on the subject before writing his Newsweek piece. However, France did not quote Brind or refer to his research in the Newsweek article. Sources tell RFM NEWS France did everything he could not to interview Brind, including e-mailing Brind, requesting a return phone call, but not providing a number so his call could be returned. A source also told RFM NEWS, France claimed Brind would not answer his other messages. 

But RFM NEWS has learned that Brind, who at the time was participating in a speaking engagement in Wisconsin, had indeed went to great lengths to make sure he was available to France. When the Newsweek reporter finally interviewed Brind, the publication omitted any reference to Brind or his organization's research which cites an increased risk of breast cancer that women may experience as a result of abortion.

"The Newsweek article is typical of how the elite press tries to cover for the abortion industry," said Judy Cleary, a spokesman for Republicans For Fair Media. "The multibillion-dollar abortion business has deep ties to organizations like the AMA and publications such as Newsweek." 

Cleary added, "Just look at how many pharmaceutical companies advertise in Newsweek and you'll see why France's article might have been slanted towards the abortion agenda."

Karen Malec, President of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, an international group concerned with the health of women said, "As a cancer survivor, I am deeply offended that some members of the media have cooperated in the abortion industry's efforts to protect their profits by attempting to delete 44 years of abortion-breast cancer research from the public record." 

Malec concluded, "This is all in an effort to convince women that abortion is ‘safe.’ When science does not conform to their ideology, the media has resorted to 'shoot the messenger' tactics by labeling those who have raised awareness concerning this women's health issue as nothing more than the rantings of pro-life religious conservatives. We encourage the press to remove their ideological blinders and engage in an honest discussion of the scientific research. This is not just another abortion debate. Women's lives are at stake."

There have been 17 statistically significant studies published worldwide on the possible link between abortion and breast cancer. Sixteen of those studies confirm such a link exists. The Newsweek article did not mention any of the research, except for saying recent studies refuted the a/bc link. It must be noted, the more recent research Newsweek refers to does not stand up to scientific scrutiny, according to some experts on statistical analysis.

France also implied Illinois House of Representative, Dan Reitz (Democrat--Steeleville), had authored legislation that would force doctors to mention the abortion/breast cancer link to women seeking abortions. In reality, Reitz never formally submitted his bill for consideration. There has not been any other legislation originating in the state House of Representatives in Illinois.

RFM NEWS contacted Rep. Reitz concerning his phone interview with France. "I was taken out of context. I think the reporter may have had an agenda. My motivation was to put information into women's hands," said Reitz. Rep. Reitz never introduced his bill which would have prompted physicians to inform women of the possible abortion/breast cancer link.

Recently, ABC's Good Morning America also covered the a/bc link. The program's host, Charles Gibson, interviewed the network's staff physician, Dr. Nancy Snyderman who is not an authority on breast cancer. Snyderman dismissed the possible link between cancer and abortion without referring to any of the 27 studies published worldwide that indicate there is evidence for the a/bc link.

Gibson closed the women's health segment by saying, "So, Nancy, there's no need for women to be worried?" The GMA segment shortly followed a USA Today article written by Rita Rubin. In her piece, Rubin misquoted an extensive review of the subject printed in MAMM Magazine which had reported the science connecting abortion and breast cancer was "murky." Contrary to the MAMM article, USA Today implied MAMM Magazine dismissed the a/bc link entirely.

*****

RFM News takes action

RFM NEWS sent an e-mail to Newsweek reporter David France. He replied to RFM NEWS by e-mail saying:

"You (RFM NEWS) have misread my article. My article was not about the disputed abortion/breast cancer link, but about the bills pending in states around the country that would force doctors to disclose as fact such a link to their patients, despite a lack of science and consensus. I interviewed Mr. Brind on that subject (as well as a dozen or so other authorities, whose names I likewise didn't include). (author's comment: note France's refusal to acknowledge Brind as a doctor) He gave me insights which I included in the article. In my reporting, the revelation that most struck me as newsworthy was the plurality of views among those politicians who were sponsoring the laws that they simply did not care about the science around this supposed link--did not have a belief one way or the other about it, didn't even care if it was wrong--but only cared about stemming the number of abortions.

That's politics, not science; that's what I wrote about. "

*****

RFM NEWS went back to review France's Newsweek piece. France's claims that he included Dr. Brind's viewpoints on the issue could not be substantiated.

In fact, RFM NEWS’ scrutiny of the Newsweek article turns up no such reference. The following is a verbatim text of David France's piece which appeared in the March 12th edition of Newsweek magazine.

NEWSWEEK TEXT

"Abortion, making scare tactics legal" by David France 

Though the first anti-abortion administration in eight years is just over a month old, emboldened abortion foes have already launched a novel legal push.

Abortion rights advocates say 15 states are considering bills requiring abortion doctors to tell patients that abortion increases breast cancer risks.

"The American Medical Association and American Cancer Society oppose the bills which force doctors to tell our patients something that is not true," says AMA Board Member, Dr. John C. Nelson.

Early 90s survey suggested a link which was disputed by more recent studies. 

The new strategy has medical ethicists worried. "It is despicable," says Arch Kaplan of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.  "There is nothing else going on here, other than abortion politics."

Illinois State Representative Dan Reitz, who introduced one of the bills, agrees. "I'm not really sure about the science," he says. "My intent was strictly about limiting abortion."

END OF NEWSWEEK TEXT

Author's note: The Newsweek piece speaks for itself.

"The abortion industry is a powerful institution in America and the World.  Billions of dollars are at stake," said Fran Eaton, Illinois Director of the Eagle Forum. Eaton concluded, "Pharmaceutical interests, the medical establishment and abortion providers themselves are not interested in getting this information out."

Media critics point to the controversy surrounding the partial-birth abortion issue when anti-abortion activists first brought that procedure to public light. "The press was reluctant to report on this. It took a courageous abortion provider himself, Ron Fitzsimmons, to substantiate whether the gruesome method was being used by abortion providers," Cleary stated. "Only then did the press, reluctantly, report the story. Part of the reason stems from the physical makeup of newsrooms themselves. I would be willing to say you would be hard pressed to find a pro-life woman working in many media newsrooms."

Cleary added, "It's hard to explain why this dynamic exists. In part, it's due to indoctrination at the academic level. Today, many journalists themselves are social activists. Abortion is a big time women's issue, at least for liberal women. The result is abortion stories are slanted far to the left and society is forced to pay the price. And, in the case of a possible link between cancer and abortion, women, unfortunately, are the big losers."

Shortly before his death, Chicago Tribune columnist, Mike Royko, wrote on how the mainstream press deals with the subject of abortion, titled "News media, others swallowed abortion lie hook, line and sinker" 

February 27, 1997. In his piece, Royko described how the elite press goes out of its way to buy the pro-abortion line in nearly every circumstance. Royko told of how the media was reluctant to report on partial-birth abortion, until a pro-abortion physician forced their hand. Royko told how Ron Fitzsimmons, who ran the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, acknowledged he had lied about the number of and reasons for the partial-birth abortions taking place in America.

Royko wrote, "The press swallowed the lies like worms by a bass because the lies fit so neatly into what is sometimes referred to as a 'world view' that is shared by the mainstream news media. Part of that view seems to be that anyone who questions the need for the vast number of abortions performed each year is some kind of right-wing, bomb-tossing, gun-toting religious nut."

Some say Royko's analysis is a perfect representation of the media's refusal to cover the abortion/breast cancer story.

"I'm sad to say I've seen this type of behavior from the press many times," said Dr. Brind. "It's unfortunate because the information we are trying to get out may have a definite impact on the lives of women. And it should be those women alone making the decisions whether or not to accept or reject the data available on the possible connection between breast cancer and abortion, not some journalist."


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