Anti-abortion documentary Hush, which shows a purported link between abortion and an increased chance of developing breast cancer, will be screened at a fundraiser for Women's Forum Australia, "an independent women's think tank", in Melbourne.
The purported link between breast cancer and abortion has been widely and repeatedly rejected by Australia's medical organisations including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Australian Cancer Council, the Breast Cancer Network of Australia, and the Australian Medical Association, as well as American organisations the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.
The link has also been rejected by the World Health Organization.
"We’re screening Hush because we think it’s important to have a sincere and open conversation about the issues that affect us as women," the organisation's research, policy, and advocacy director, Rachael Wong, told BuzzFeed News.
"We think the doctors, scientists, and heartbroken women featured in the Hush documentary put forward a serious case that women have the right to have scientifically answered."
She rejected the terms "pro-life" or "pro-choice", which she said were "polarising", and described her organisation, which she said has 2,500 subscribers, as "pro-woman".
Wong sent BuzzFeed News links to evidence that "having children [was] associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer" but did not respond to questions about why this would apply specifically to a woman who had terminated a pregnancy and not any woman who had chosen not to have kids.
The Australian Christian Lobby has promoted the Women's Forum event, which will take place on Friday.
"We have a common interest in certain issues that affect women. ... Faith and religion are not part of our mandate, but anyone is free to promote our events," Wong said.
"I don’t personally have medical expertise to comment, but I do believe that women’s health should not be endangered," Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis told BuzzFeed News.
"If there is evidence emerging that abortion and breast cancer is linked and we deny it for political purposes, future generations will pay the price."
Davis provided BuzzFeed News with three hyperlinks to articles that supported the theory.
Two referenced a 2013 "meta-analysis" study that has been dismissed by the Cancer Council of Australia.
The third was to an article from anti-abortion news agency LifeNews.com, which claimed 12 Indian studies had found that women who had terminated a pregnancy had a 554% increased risk of developing breast cancer.
"If you have an abortion you have a 30 to 40% chance of coming down with breast cancer," Dr Ian Gentles, who edited The Right to Birth: Some Christian Views on Abortion, claims in Hush.
"The longer you delay pregnancy the higher your rate of breast cancer," Gentles said.
But Australian doctors say the claims are wrong.
"This line of reasoning, which is really grotesque, suggests that if women really want to protect their breasts 50 years down the road they should have a baby at 13," obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr David Grime told the filmmakers.
Perpetuating the "discredited and baseless myth" created a "huge anxiety" for women considering termination, Family Planning NSW medical director Dr Deborah Bateson told BuzzFeed News.
"Certainly women sometimes inadvertently read about this myth on a website that looks as though it is giving credible information but is not," Bateson said.
Kate Marsh of reproductive health counselling service Children by Choice told BuzzFeed News: "There is no causal link between breast cancer and abortion. It’s incredibly disingenuous and potentially damaging for anti-abortion groups to try and leverage the already high levels of concern about breast cancer in their scare campaigns on abortion, which is one of the safest and most common medical procedures performed in Australia, with cherry-picked data and debunked studies.
"People considering abortion or battling breast cancer have enough to deal with already, without this incredibly transparent attempt to promote feelings of fear or guilt about their reproductive health choices."
Australia's largest provider of pregnancy termination services, Marie Stopes International, also said it rejected the link when contacted by BuzzFeed News.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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