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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Abortion and Breast Cancer: A Post-Roe America


On June 24th, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in their ruling on the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In essence, the ruling returned the decision to allow and provide abortions to the individual states rather than being upheld as a constitutionally protected procedure for all states. While some states will continue to uphold this right, others have already enacted bans on abortion, and many will do so in the coming weeks and months.


At SurvivingBreastCancer.org, we understand that while some may be supportive of this ruling, others are shocked, saddened, or afraid, especially when it so directly affects many women’s reproductive freedoms. No matter where your opinion may fall, our main goal is to provide support for you during your breast cancer journey so that you can make informed decisions about your health. Below, we have compiled a collection of resources about abortion and breast cancer and how Dobbs v. Jackson may affect those seeking cancer treatment.

 

NPR summarizes the main points from Justice Alito’s opinion, which defines the new sets of guidelines regarding abortion within the U.S, along with the concurring opinion made by Justice Clarence Thomas and the dissenting opinion made by Justices Stephen Breyer Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The article additionally explains the legislation changes happening within individual states, and how future legal battles may begin regarding people traveling across state lines to get abortions. If you want to know more about the legal background of the ruling, Read More.

 

This literature review from National Breast Cancer Coalition tackles an older belief that getting an abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Citing both older, less reliable studies as well as a few newer studies with more rigorous follow-up, they note that the newer studies find no significant association between abortion and breast cancer development. Additionally, many medical associations such as the National Cancer Institute and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that there likely is no increased risk of cancer following an abortion. Read More



 

While you might not think abortion rights relate directly to cancer, for some people, having the ability to get an abortion could directly impact their treatment. Given that on average, 1 out of 1000 pregnant people per year receive a cancer diagnosis, and some cancer treatments are not advisable, or even forbidden, during pregnancy, for those that need an abortion to receive treatment, the ruling severely limits their options. Additionally, some cancer treatments can cause gestational trophoblastic diseases, which do not produce viable pregnancies and often require abortion to save the patient’s life. And for those looking for fertility options post-cancer, the ruling may even affect procedures where embryos are frozen, such as with IFV. In essence, the ruling severely limits a woman’s ability to advocate for her health, and this could unfairly target cancer patients with a uterus. Read More

 

This resource reveals the challenges that healthcare providers may face when challenged by the new abortion requirements, especially in states that have totally outlawed abortion except when the health of the pregnant person is imminently at risk. Dr. Lisa Harris, an OB-GYN and professor at the University of Michigan says, “There are many conditions [where as] pregnancy progresses, it puts enormous stress on all of the body's organ systems – the heart, the lungs, the kidneys. So they may be fine right now – there's no life-threatening emergency now – but three or four or five months from now, they may have life-threatening consequences." To Harris and many other healthcare providers, the laws are vague, and test the ethics of “Do No Harm” while still remaining legal: at what point is the patient immenently at risk, and is it right to potentially risk lives in waiting to get there? Read More

 

We hope that these resources explain the Supreme Court ruling a bit further as well as its potential consequences, specifically in regards to your breast cancer journey. For those looking for additional support, the SurvivingBreastCancer.org app has community discussion boards and private groups so that you can connect with others and get peer to peer support.




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