Studies Casting a Shadow on Abortion and Contraceptives Are Largely
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, 22 SEPT. 2001 (ZENIT).
Studies that suggest women may face serious risks from abortion and
birth control pills have met with an odd response in the mainstream
media: virtual silence.
A case in point is the question of the relation between abortion and
Two years ago the study "Legalized Abortion and Crime," by
John Donohue of Stanford Law School and Steven Levitt of the University
of Chicago, made headlines for months when it proposed a causal
relationship between the legalization of abortion and the drop in crime
levels in recent years.
Papers and magazines were full of articles debating this important
"discovery." One example was an article in the Sept. 27, 1999,
issue of Business Week, in which Robert J. Barro, a Harvard economics
professor, solemnly concluded that the study was probably right and that
it strengthened the position of "moderates" in favor of
But an evaluation of this theory, published May 15 by the Yale Law
School and authored by John R. Lott Jr. and John Whitley, put in serious
doubt any link between abortion and lower criminal rates.
Working Paper 254, as their evaluation was called, observed that while
abortion may prevent the birth of "unwanted" children, who may
have a higher probability of criminal behavior, some research suggests
that legalizing abortion increases out-of-wedlock births and
single-parent families, which in turn has a negative human impact and
can foment conditions that lead to crime.
The working paper, in fact, says that evidence shows that legalizing
abortion actually increased murder rates by about 0.5% to 7%. Moreover,
the Yale evaluation found the earlier study had a serious methodological
flaw, in that it did not directly link the cohorts who are committing
crime with whether they had been born before or after abortion was
Yet despite, or because of, the implications of the Yale report, most
media ignored the story.
Also ignored have been stories linking abortion with breast cancer. One
such story was revealed in an Aug. 16 press release by the Coalition on
Abortion/Breast Cancer, stating that a lawsuit was filed in a San Diego
court by three California women against Planned Parenthood Federation of
The suit accuses Planned Parenthood of having misled women about the
safety of abortion. The release notes that research published over
nearly a half-century has linked the procedure with increased breast
In fact, the incidence of breast cancer among American women has climbed
40% in the years since the 1973 legalization of abortion. At the same
time, the incidence of all other cancers has declined in the United
A study commissioned by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by
Dr. Janet Daling and her colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
reported, "Among women who had been pregnant at least once, the
risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion
was 50% higher than among other women."
Again, the health findings, as well as the lawsuit against Planned
Parenthood, garnered little attention from the mass media.
Hidden dangers of contraceptives
Also ignored by most media are the health risks posed by contraceptives.
In Britain, the Telegraph newspaper on July 20 reported that women
taking newer, third-generation contraceptive pills are at an increased
risk of potentially fatal blood clots. Researchers found that these
pills almost doubled the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
The findings, published by the British Medical Journal, supported
studies which have shown that deep vein thrombosis in users of
third-generation pills was 25 cases per 100,000 women compared with 15
per 100,000 among users of older pills.
A few days later, a news release by Indiana University declared that
birth control pills can have significant adverse effects on sexuality
and mood in some women. According to a study by the Kinsey Institute for
Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, 61% of women who participated
in the investigation reported adverse sexual, emotional and physical
The authors noted that, despite 40 years of use of the pill, there is no
way of predicting which women are likely to experience adverse mood or
sexuality effects from oral contraceptives, or which oral formulations
are more likely to be responsible.
Not-so-safe sex counseling
Meanwhile, the June 16 issue of the British Medical Journal published
the results of a study designed to determine the effectiveness of a
safe-sex education in reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted
infections among homosexual men. The 343 participants were divided into
two groups, one of which received the counseling. The control group did
Twelve months later, 31% of the intervention group and 21% of the
control group had at least one new infection diagnosed at the clinic.
The study concluded that the counseling did not reduce the risk of
acquiring a new sexually transmitted infection among these homosexual
men. Similar findings have been reported in other trials, the article
This article, too, failed to win much media attention. But it did find
its way onto the Internet—a reminder that, in this era of declining
press readership, the mainstream media that ignore important health
stories do so at their own risk.