A Pennsylvania woman has won a landmark victory in her malpractice suit
against an abortion provider and a New Jersey women’s center, which anti-abortion advocates hail as a triumph in their efforts to expose a decades-old medical cover-up.
On the eve of trial last Friday, Dr. Charles Benjamin and the Cherry Hill
Women’s Center in Cherry Hill, N.J., agreed to settle claims it violated
parental-consent law and failed to inform its then-17-year-old patient about the
emotional and physical risks of abortion – including increased risk of breast
When the plaintiff, who goes by the fictitious name of “Sarah,” got
pregnant at the age of 16, her high-school guidance counselor facilitated her
second-trimester abortion at the New Jersey clinic across the Delaware River
without her parents’ knowledge. New Jersey was chosen because it has no
parental-consent laws regarding abortions for minors. The girl’s home state of Pennsylvania, however, requires the consent of at least one parent.
Sarah’s parents successfully sued the high school in a separate lawsuit
for violating their 14th Amendment rights to raise their child without
interference by the public school.
While the New Jersey clinic and provider cannot be criminally prosecuted
for violating Pennsylvania law, they can be taken to task in the civil arena. This
lawsuit makes it possible for the abortion providers to be sued for battery.
“This case establishes abortion clinics can’t escape civil penalties by
aborting for kids from other states when they know the state where they come
from has parental-consent statute,” Sarah’s attorney Joseph P. Stanton told
Abortion clinics in no-consent states like New Jersey and Illinois are known
“dumping grounds” for abortions by out-of-state minors, say anti-abortion
advocates. According to Stanton’s statistics, an average of 43 women from
Pennsylvania travel to New Jersey every month to have abortions. Ten of
those are teens, some as young as 12.
Stanton said one New Jersey clinic routinely promotes its “no parental
consent” services in advertising to minors in Pennsylvania.
Sarah is said to have suffered tremendously since having her abortion.
Attorney Susan Marie Gertz, executive director of the Women’s Injury Network,
the national charity that covered Sarah’s case expenses, reports she was
diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome following the abortion.
Gertz applauded the undisclosed settlement, which was based on Sarah’s
need for medical monitoring for early detection of breast cancer. Doctors
estimated that cost to be $2,500 annually. The settlement also includes
funding to cover future psychological counseling.
“Abortion malpractice lawsuits help expose the deceptive practices of the
abortion industry and hold doctors legally and financially accountable to the
women they’ve harmed,” Gertz said in a statement.
Opened in 1978, the Cherry Hill Women’s Center bills itself as “a safe
place to make an important decision.” According to its website, a specialized group
of medical care providers help make the center “one of New Jersey’s leading
ambulatory surgical centers for women’s health.”
A call for comment from the center’s administrator was not returned, and
Benjamin was unavailable.
Proponents of the abortion-breast cancer link, known as the ABC link, also
cheered the settlement, the first associated with the ABC link recorded in the
U.S. Two others have been reached in Australia.
“This settlement will teach the medical establishment that it can no longer
profit by keeping women in the dark about the breast cancer risk,” said Karen
Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast
Malec and others call the ABC link “the elephant in medicine’s parlor.”
While medical experts privately admit abortion is one cause of breast cancer, the volatility of the issue prevents them from publicly acknowledging it.
reported breast cancer is linked to reproductive hormones,
particularly estrogen. Although science has yet to define specifically what
causes breast cancer, it is uncontested – even among abortion providers –
that the sooner a woman has her first child, the lower her risk of developing
breast cancer. This is called the “protective” effect.
According to Dr. Joel Brind, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention
Institute and a leading ABC-link researcher, a woman’s estrogen level
increases hundreds of times above normal upon conceiving – and one of the
first physical changes to the pregnant woman’s body occurs in the breasts.
That hormone surge leads to the growth of “undifferentiated” cells in the breast
as the body prepares to produce milk for the coming baby. Undifferentiated
cells are vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, which can give rise to
cancerous tumors later in life.
In the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy, those cells are “terminally
differentiated” through a still largely unknown process and are ready to
produce milk. Differentiated cells are not vulnerable to carcinogens. However,
should a pregnancy be terminated prior to cell differentiation, the woman is left
with abnormally high numbers of undifferentiated cells, therefore increasing
her risk of developing breast cancer.
Since 1957, 29 out of 39 published studies on the subject worldwide and
13 out of 16 studies in the United States show a positive association between
induced abortion and breast cancer. Seventeen of the 29 are statistically
significant, which means there’s a 95 percent certainty that the association is
not by chance. Seven of these 17 report more than a two-fold risk increase.
Five medical organizations recognize a link between abortion and breast
cancer. They include the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians
and Gynecologists, the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and The
Polycarp Research Institute.
Groups such as Planned
Parenthood attack the validity of Brind’s and other researchers’ studies and refuse to inform prospective
abortion recipients of the existence, dismissing even the statistically significant findings as “misinformation” being used “as a weapon in the campaign against safe, legal abortion.”
“Undaunted by the absence of compelling evidence associating induced
abortion with a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, anti-choice
extremists insist on making the connection anyway,” says Planned
Parenthood on its website.
To combat the denial and protect women, Minnesota and Texas state
legislators passed informed-consent legislation earlier this year, which
requires abortion providers to tell prospective patients about the risk.
Massachusetts is considering similar legislation.
Linda Rosenthal, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Law and
Policy in New York, petitioned to participate as a lawyer in Sarah’s case on
the side of Benjamin and the clinic. CRLP is a national public interest law firm
devoted to protecting the “constitutional rights” of women seeking abortions.
“It’s disturbing to have [Rosenthal] declaring women are not entitled to
[risk] information. To me, being fully informed is a part of your reproductive
rights,” said Stanton. “It’s disappointing they’re willing to sacrifice women’s
lives because they’re beholden to the abortion industry.”
“It’s common sense,” adds Malec. “Doctors should be erring on the side of caution and should be telling patients ‘Yes, there is research going back 46 years that supports an abortion-breast cancer link.’ That’s the minimum owed to women.”
about abortion-breast cancer link
goes on trial