Conservative Spotlight: Women's Injury Network

The pro-life movement quietly achieved a significant victory last month that had nothing to do with Congress. For the first time, some success in a lawsuit over the connection between abortion and breast cancer was achieved when the abortionist defendants had to settle.

“Represented by attorney Joseph P. Stanton, a Pennsylvania teenager had sued abortionist Charles Benjamin and the Cherry Hill Women’s Center. She successfully settled her medical malpractice case on October 17, the eve of trial, in a Philadelphia County Court,” announced the Women’s Injury Network (WIN). “Her case is the first medical malpractice lawsuit in the United States to reap a settlement based on a claim over the failure of an abortionist and/or clinic to inform a woman of the increased risk of breast cancer due to abortion. The clinic required that the settlement amount be kept confidential.”

This victory was achieved with help from WIN, which defrays the costs of lawsuits filed in connection with abortion. “The purpose of WIN is really to help abortion-injured women in their lawsuits and malpractice actions,” said Susan Marie Gertz, a Cincinnati attorney who is the executive director of the 501(c)3 organization. “We do not pay attorney’s fees but for photocopying costs, transcription costs, expert witnesses. In many cases, attorneys will take on these cases without charge.” Costs other than attorney’s fees, she said, can run as high as $50,000.

“When ‘Sarah’ (not her real name) was 17, her high school guidance counselor facilitated her second-trimester abortion in New Jersey without her parents’ knowledge,” WIN reports. “Now 22, Sarah has suffered tremendously in the aftermath of her abortion. While Sarah is not currently diagnosed with breast cancer, it has been shown that an abortion increases the statistical odds of developing breast cancer in two ways: 1) It delays first-term pregnancies; and 2) It increases the number of cancer-vulnerable breast cells due to estrogen overexposure early in pregnancy.”

That is one extraordinary aspect of the case: Even though Sarah was not physically injured, the defendants in the case-based on their failure to warn Sarah of an abortion-breast cancer connection-felt they had to settle. “Sarah did not suffer with any physical injury,” said Gertz. “She did suffer psychological injury.” Pennsylvania law requires “informed consent” before a procedure such as abortion, she said.

Medical experts do not doubt that abortion increases a young woman’s risk of breast cancer if without the abortion that young woman would have carried her unborn child to term. Carrying a child to term and giving birth, said Gertz, triggers a protective effect in young women. “The earlier in life a woman has a full-term pregnancy,” she said, “the less likely it is she will have breast cancer later. If she has one by age 18, there is a one-third cut in risk.”

WIN summarizes the science behind the phenomenon: “Estrogen is connected with the development of most breast cancers. It stimulates the increase of normal and cancer-vulnerable breast cells. An abortion causes a woman to lose the benefit of a third-trimester protection process, which would have neutralized estrogen overexposure by maturing her breast cells into milk-producing, cancer-resistant tissue.”

Asked whether abortion directly increases a woman’s risk of suffering from breast cancer, Gertz said, “That is much more controversial but there is a lot of evidence.”

WIN was founded in 1996 by attorney Amy T. McInerny. Its board of advisors includes Helen Alvar??© of the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America and Dr. Ralph McInerny of the University of Notre Dame.

Gertz said that the abortionists’ rhetoric about a mature woman’s making a responsible decision is often a myth. “Many women have abortions as minors and then suffer from them psychologically later,” she said. “Many of these clinics do not do a good job determining what’s going on with these young women when they come in for this elective procedure. They present the decision being made by a woman in private with her doctor. But 99% of abortions are not decided that way.” Sarah was counseled by “college-age-people making $8 an hour,” she said-a not unusual situation.

Gertz said she believed that the resistance to acknowledging the abortion-breast cancer connection will break down. “I think this will be very similar to the tobacco-lung cancer connection,” she said. “In the 1920s, studies started coming out about the tobacco-lung cancer link. It was not until the 1960s that warnings were required on cigarette packages. In 1957, the first study, on Japanese women, showing a link between abortion and breast cancer was published. The first one on American women was in 1981.”