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Activist Quits Over Abortion

When is a breast-cancer group offensive to women? When it supports abortion, says one breast-cancer advocate.
by Angelique Ruhi-Lopez | Source:
DALLAS — When is a breast-cancer group offensive to women? When it supports abortion, says one breast-cancer advocate.

Eve Sanchez Silver, a two-time breast cancer survivor and Hispanic outreach director for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, found out in September that the organization provided funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. She was stunned and disappointed to the point of resignation — from her job, that is.

“It was hard to leave people I worked with, but it was easy to separate myself from an organization that I believe is accessory to murder. It all boils down to that. I didn’t come there to assist Planned Parenthood, so I quit,” Sanchez Silver said.

The Komen Foundation insists the grants are not being used for anything to which Sanchez Silver would object. According to Rebecca Garcia, the foundation’s vice president of health services, about $38 million was disbursed last year to breast-health education screening and treatment programs; of that, $475,000 went to Planned Parenthood clinics to provide mammograms and health education.

“In a lot of areas, especially rural and even some urban areas, one of the only sources of breast-cancer screening and education that serves low-income, uninsured women between 40 and 50 years old is Planned Parenthood,” Garcia said. “They’re restricted by contract to use these monies for the services indicated and must report to us on an annual basis. We know that the money is being spent on the services intended.”

But Sanchez Silver wasn’t convinced. The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer reported that in December 2001, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment ordered an independent audit of Planned Parenthood to see if it had effectively separated its privately funded abortion services from its cancer screening and family services in accordance with a 1999 law banning state-funded abortions. The audit found that Planned Parenthood’s family-planning arm was subsidizing rent payments of the abortion provider in violation of the law.

“Money is fungible,” Sanchez Silver said. “If you put a dollar in an account, you can’t track that money. As a life-affirming organization, this is a dreadful mistake with far-reaching problems for the Komen Foundation. I asked them if there was any chance that this could be re-examined, and they assured me that this is not something they would re-examine.”

“We’re very transparent about all that we do, and all of our grants are up on our website,” countered Garcia.

Deadly Link?

Also troubling Sanchez Silver is what may be the most ironic part of all: Recent medical studies have shown that a link could exist between abortion and breast cancer.

Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, explained that women are born with cancer-vulnerable breast tissue. When a woman becomes pregnant, estrogen levels increase up to 2,000% by the end of the first trimester and continue to rise through the second trimester. The only mechanism that protects breast tissue from overexposure to estrogen, and matures the tissue into cancer-resistant, milk-producing tissue, is a process known as differentiation that begins at 32 weeks of pregnancy. If a woman has an abortion, or a pre-term birth before 32 weeks of gestation, her breast-cancer risk may increase. Most first-trimester miscarriages, however, have not been linked to increased cancer risk because there is no estrogen overexposure.

Joel Brind, professor of biology, chemistry and endocrinology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, compiled and analyzed many abortion/breast-cancer studies from around the world in 1996. He found a 30% average increase of breast cancer in women who had abortions.

“Abortion prevents the lowering of risk that full-term pregnancy provides, and it increases risks even beyond not having been pregnant in the first place,” Brind said. “Abortions have caused about 5% to 10% of breast cancers in this century, and it’s the most preventable because it’s a matter of choice. This is well worth talking about.”

Some organizations are not talking about this possible link, though, citing inconclusive or faulty evidence.

“The National Cancer Institute had a big meeting of scientists, including the ones who do say there is a link, that looked at all of the evidence. They had a good variety of people on the panels that looked at the possible connection between abortion and breast cancer but they found no conclusive evidence based on all of the studies. That’s where the state of the science is now,” said Garcia of the Komen Foundation.

“We remain open to looking at the science as it evolves, informing women of things that change their risk factors. If they ask us about that, we point them to the studies, but we’re very careful to not provide advice, but information,” she said.

Sanchez Silver said that not sharing the information with breast-cancer patients, or women at risk of breast cancer, could be deadly.

“All women — it doesn’t matter whether pro-life or pro-choice, whether feminists or not feminists — need to know this information. You can’t kill someone in one room and affirm life in the other,” Sanchez Silver said.

“For Komen to give money to Planned Parenthood is akin to a cancer group giving money to Philip Morris to perform lung-cancer screenings on cigarette smokers,” Malec said. “These organizations only tell women when the studies show that there’s no risk, or when there’s a risk decrease…. Women need to start screaming about this and become activists for their daughters’ sake.”

Brind said that some in the medical field are simply avoiding or denying what he believes are very clear results. “Probably the most important aspect of the link is not even disputed science. No one denies that not carrying a pregnancy to full term increases the risk for breast cancer,” Brind said. “Colleagues have told me point-blank that they don’t want to say anything or defend an abortion/breast-cancer link because it’s too political and they would take a lot of heat for this.”

“They have a lot of the positions in scientific and cancer research, and those of their colleagues who don’t feel that way are intimidated and go along with it so that they don’t lose their grants,” he said. “The mainstream scientific research establishment is not a benign or even benevolent objective group of investigators. The U.S. National Cancer Institute and other groups are representative of the most virulent pro-abortion extremists you can find. It’s shameful.”

As Hispanic outreach director of the Komen Foundation — and in her current role as director of Cinta Latina Research, an organization she founded in 1999 that researches breast-cancer issues and their effects on minorities — Sanchez Silver works to promote awareness of breast-cancer risks in Hispanic women and other minorities. An added concern of hers is the charge that Planned Parenthood targets minorities for population control.

“Margaret Sanger, who started Planned Parenthood, was interested in destroying people of color. Sanger’s program is right on schedule,” Sanchez Silver said.

Astrid Bennett-Gutierrez, former president of Hispanics for Life, says that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers target a disproportionate number of areas with large minority populations. Within one mile of a low-income Los Angeles neighborhood that is predominantly Hispanic, there are seven abortion clinics, she said.

“There are billboards and commercials on Spanish radio for Planned Parenthood. They’re giving people the impression that they’re family-oriented, which is very insidious because it hides that they’re the No. 1 abortion provider,” Bennett-Gutierrez said.

“They’re training housewives to teach one another and promote the Planned Parenthood agenda in a program called Promotoras Comunitarias [Community Promoters], and they’re undermining our values. The Hispanic community embraces children and supports life. If Hispanics knew that they provide abortions and contraceptives, they would realize that they’re betraying their own values.”

Calls to Planned Parenthood for comment were not returned.

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