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Abortion industry: Next target of tobacco-like lawsuits?

WASHINGTON (BP)–A lawsuit against an abortion clinic in Fargo, N.D., might be an opening for a series of class action suits against the abortion industry for failing to disclose the dangers of the procedure, according to an Aug. 9 report on CNSNews.com.

The suit, Mattson v. Red River Women’s Clinic, was filed 14 months ago on behalf of a woman who says she was the victim of false advertising because she was not informed of the connection between breast cancer and abortion.

The suit centers on a clinic brochure given to women seeking an abortion that reads, “Anti-abortion activists claim that having an abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer and endangers future childbearing. None of these claims are supported by medical research or established medical organizations.”

The suit alleges that “[b]y publishing and distributing a brochure stating that medical research does not support the claim that having an abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer,” the clinic violated informed consent laws requiring patients to be told the immediate and long-term risks of any surgical procedure.

The clinic has since withdrawn the brochure, but a judge denied its motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the cause of action was moot. On Aug. 25, a hearing will be held in the case on attorney John Kindley’s request for an injunction requiring the clinic to warn women seeking abortions of the risks of the procedure.

Kindley, representing Mattson, told CNSNews.com if the suit is successful, it could “open the abortion industry up to hundreds of tobacco-like lawsuits…. There are millions of women with potential causes of action out there.”

In an “informed consent” medical malpractice suit, the plaintiff has to prove “by a reasonable preponderance of the evidence” — a lesser burden than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” — that he or she was not given information that reasonably could have affected the decision to undergo a procedure.

Said Kindley, “There is no doubt that both severe emotional distress and breast cancer are material risks of abortion.”

Joel Brind, a member of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission and the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, told CNSNews.com there is a 30 percent overall increased risk of breast cancer after having an abortion and an 80 percent increased risk for women with a family history of cancer. The risk also increases when the woman had an abortion before age 18 or after age 45.

Brind, who is serving as an expert plaintiff’s witness in the Mattson case, quoted a 1981 National Cancer Institute study in presenting his findings, as well as his own studies and recent publications by the Royal College Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Great Britain.

However, a spokesperson for NCI said there is “as yet not enough evidence to draw any firm conclusions” about a connection between abortion and breast cancer.

The Red River Women’s Clinic referred all requests for information to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, which is representing the defendants. Officials there declined to comment to CNSNews.com while the case is in litigation.
Torres is a senior staff writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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  • Justin Torres