winter 2004
table of contents
Letter from the Editor
Articles Online

Election Postmortem
A Center of One's Own
Abortion/Breast Cancer Link?
The Russian Wives Club


From Gadfly to Nobel Peace Prize
DemocraShe in Northern Ireland
Women's Film in Palestine
Networking Corner

Cover Story
Women of the Year
Jersey Girls | Jessica Seigel
Samanta Power | Catherine Orenstein
Betty Dukes | Ellen Hawkes
Saudatu Mahdi | Stephanie Nolen
Kathy Najimy | Ellen Snortland
Maxine Waters | Lisa Armstrong
Lisa Fernandez | Michele Kort

More Features

Women, Democracy and Hope | Kathy Sheridan
The End of Feminism's Third Wave | Lisa Jervis
The Fuck-You 50s | Suzanne Braun Levine
Rocking the Cradle of Jazz | Sherrie Tucker
Cheers and Cringes: The Year in Review
Women Who Made a Difference


Back to the Kitchen
Decoding anti-feminist writer Caitlin Flanagan | Hillary Frey

Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary | Rebecca Brown

It was a Good Year for Dreams | Cortney Davis
the seahorse as transubstantiation
|Quan Barry

Activists, actors, academics, athletes, writers and a great chef

Book Reviews
Patricia Cohen on Marilynne Robinson's Gilead; Jenoyne Adams on Michel Wallace's Dark Designs and Visual Culture; Debra Spark on Cynthia Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World; Bernadette Murphy on Mary Gordon's Pearl; Valerie Miner on Alice Munro's Runaway

Plus: Winter Must-Read List

We Must Frame the Debate - Now! | Donna Brazile

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NATIONAL NEWS | winter 2004

Clinics Refute Scare Tactics
Four states are misleading women seeking abortions

After an extensive study, the National Cancer Institute concluded in 2003 that “induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”

But here’s the rub: Texas and Mississippi are requiring women seeking an abortion to read and sign a consent form that states they understand the two are linked; in Kansas and Louisiana, giving out such information is optional. An additional 14 states are introducing legislation that would make this practice mandatory.

The pamphlets imply a correlation between breast cancer and abortion, but somewhat temper the alert with vague language suggesting that the information is not proven fact.

The brochure handed out in Texas reads: “If you have carried a pregnancy to term as a young woman, you may be less likely to get breast cancer in the future. However, you do not get the same protective effect if you pregnancy is ended by abortion. There is agreement that the issue needs further study.”

But who, exactly, still believes this issue requires further study when it’s already been proven untrue? Bo the NCI and The Lancet, a well-respected British medical journal, came to the conclusion that there was no link.

In Montana, a law mandating this type of warning was struck down by the state Supreme Court. A similar fate met the proposal in Minnesota.

Sharon Watson, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said in a recent AP interview that women considering abortions ought to “do further research on their own and determine which of those studies they should put most attention on.”

She was referring to the original studies from the mid-1990s that suggested a link between breast cancer and abortion; those studies’ methods have since been harshly criticized by medical researchers for being unscientific.

Despite the disproved results of that study, Watson said, “We’re just trying to provide all the information it’s possible to provide.”

Pro-choice advocates point out that the lasting mental effect of this type of anti-abortion scare tactic is damaging.

“In my experience, this inaccurate information is going to dissuade few women from going ahead and having the abortion,” Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood, said in a recent AP interview. “What it does do is put a false guilt trip on that woman.”

Similar bills are currently being considered in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.


The NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and Board of Scientific Counselors met March 3, 2003, to review the work of the Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop (February 24-26, 2003). This report summarizes the workshop's discussion and findings, including the point that “induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”


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