Once upon a time – if you looked very closely, you could spot a token Evangelical or two among the throngs of committed Catholics in the pro-life movement.  They could be seen off to the side, bible in hand, head bowed in fervent prayer.

Now almost anywhere you look – at rallies, life chains, strategy sessions – you’ll find evangelicals fighting for the cause of life.  Estimates are that between one third and one half of the pro-life movement is now comprised of evangelical Christians.

In the late eighties – some say too late – the evangelical community became officially involved in the fight against abortion.  The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada took the lead, writing a declaration on the sanctity of human life, preparing a brief for legislators on Bill C-43 and producing the sensitive and dramatic video, “Justice for All.”

Bruce Clemenger, Director of Public Affairs for the Fellowship says evangelicals are increasingly becoming more “pro-active.”  “Being involved at the table of public debate is an important part of working out our salvation with fear and trembling, as the Bible commands us to do,” he explains. For many individual evangelicals, the 1988 Supreme Court ruling, striking down existing abortion law, was the impetus for their involvement.  For others, it was Operation Rescue.  New groups were born and new leaders raised up.

One of the main arenas that evangelicals were drawn to was the Crisis Pregnancy Centre movement.  Cindi Lo Forti, President of Campaign Life Niagara says, “We’re very comfortable with administering compassion – that’s why we’re so successful in crisis pregnancy intervention and Post Abortion Syndrome counseling.  “But she adds that “evangelicals must also bring “truth to the marketplace through educational and political activities.”

And more and more are doing just that.  Not only have they established adoption agencies, homes for unwed mothers, and chastity education, but many are leaders in the educational and political arms of the pro-life movement – their contributions are as diverse and vibrant as the people themselves.

Some of the credit for motivating evangelicals to action in the pro-life movement must be given to Focus on the Family.  Their nationwide “Community Impact Seminars” have provided evangelicals with a clear biblical mandate and a plan of action and thousands have become involved as a result.

The seminars have also concentrated on reversing the media-generated image of evangelicals as “bible thumpers.”  And other organizations are doing likewise.  Rick Hiebert, Editor of Resource Magazine, a Pentecostal publication, urges evangelicals to “infiltrate the secular media, break down the rhetoric, and destroy their ability to marginalize us.”

Unfortunately, evangelicals have found the battle against abortion as frustrating as their Catholic brothers and sisters – due to lack of support and involvement by the larger evangelical church.  Just ask Ken Campbell, founder of Choose Life Canada or Randy Dyer, of Christians for Life.  Gaetane Lecours, an evangelical Pastor believes it’s still “a rare breed of Christian” who is willing to get involved in life issues.

But Larry Matthews, editor of Canadian Baptist Newspaper maintains that more and more will get involved if we continue to present the pro-life message as one of compassion for “both” the mother and child.  While most are sensitive to this, there have been exceptions – such as a letter to the Winnipeg Sun alleging that “Morgentaler should be jailed for life and women who have abortions should be shot.”

And recently, other “hot issues” have drawn some evangelical pro-lifers into other battlefields.  Audrey Dorsch, Managing Editor of Faith Today says abortion will have to share room with homosexuality in the nineties.

But Harold Jantz, Editor of Christian Week, contends that we must keep the heat on the abortion issue.  “Just because the secular press has moved on, doesn’t mean we have to,” he says.

Most agree that if the war against abortion is ever to be won, evangelicals must not only maintain their numbers, but also the high energy they brought to the movement.  Marcy Edwards, a pro-life leader in Western Ontario says, “Evangelicals came in at a time when the movement was beginning to drag.  They brought much needed energy, vitality and enthusiasm.”

But with those strengths also came potential for division.  An incident that comes to mind transpired at the National Pro-life conference in Toronto last year.  There they stood in front of the hotel, two evangelical ladies, speaking clearly into the mike of a CBC reporter – denouncing the fact that there was a Catholic Mass, but no worship service for them.  Their complaint may have been valid, but it should have been kept inside the movement – not aired like so much dirty laundry on national television.

And it seems stereotypes die hard, with much of the evangelical community still believing that the movement is Catholic.  Perhaps they should ask s pro-abortionist – no doubt they would be branded a “born-again bigot” and told to “go away.”

Soon after coming into the movement, evangelicals become aware of the potential for division.  So they make a conscious choice to walk in solidarity, accepting the traditions of the Catholic brothers and sisters, and vice versa.  And then something remarkable happens: They realize that the strength of the movement is its diversity, and they see the big picture – that The Lord in His infinite wisdom is using the pro-life movement to unify His Church.

Breast cancer and abortion linked, cites new research

“Aborting one’s first pregnancy, or having multiple abortions, increases a woman’s risk of subsequent breast cancer,” says Joel Brind, Ph.D.  Dr. Brind, Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Endocrinology in Baruch College at the City University of New York, has been involved in breast cancer research for over a decade.

In Canada, breast cancer is the leading killer of women in the 35 to 44 year age group.  For women over 53, it comes second place to heart disease as the leading cause of death.  This year alone, 15,200 will die from the disease.

World-wide studies confirming the rising incidence of breast cancer in women who have had abortions have been appearing since the 1970s.  One 1981 study of 163 breast cancer patients in San Francisco showed that women who had aborted their first pregnancy were more than twice as likely to develop the disease.

Another (1976-80) studied 1451 upstate New York and Long Island women who developed breast cancer before age 40, contrasted with a same-sized, closely matched control group.  The study showed a 90 per cent higher breast cancer rate among women who had aborted their first pregnancy – when compared with women who had continued their first pregnancy to term.

In summarizing the published research literature, Dr. Brind uses a hypothetical example of the average 15-year-old North American girl.  She has at least a 10 per cent life-time chance of having breast cancer, assuming that she will bear at least one child when in her 20s.  If she becomes pregnant in her teens, having the baby reduces her risk to about 7 per cent, while having a first trimester abortion will increase the risk to about 15 per cent.  If the abortion leaves her infertile, her risk doubles to about 30 per cent.  “Yet the American medical community,” sums up Dr. Brind, “continues to insist that abortion is much safer than childbirth.”

V points out that a longer time span between puberty and first birth increases the risks of subsequent breast cancer.  Breast tissue only fully matures through full-term pregnancy and subsequent breast feeding, thus making the tissue more resistant to environmental carcinogens.  Abortion is even riskier than a mere delaying of childbirth, because it interrupts the hormonal changes in breast tissue which occur during the cycle of the pregnancy.

“Breast tissue,” explains Dr. Brind, “undergoes its first major round of growth (cell proliferation) during puberty, but it still is relatively undifferentiated (far from able to make milk).  As such, it is highly susceptible to the effects of carcinogens of all sorts.  Carcinogens are substances which can damage DNA and thereby initiate the change of normal body cells into potential cancer cells.”

Dr. Brind continues, “Substances which make abnormal cells grow into full-blown cancer are called promoters.  The most potent promoters of cancers of the breast (and other female reproductive tissues) are the female sex hormones, estrogens.  Most established risk factors for breast cancer relate to some form of estrogen excess.  For example, women who enter the menopause at an older age are at risk of breast cancer because they are exposed for more years to cyclically high levels of estrogens.”

A surge of estrogen in early pregnancy, he explains, stimulates “the second major round of breast tissue growth.  In late pregnancy, other hormones act to make the breast tissue differentiate into milk-producing tissue.  These terminally differentiated cells are much less susceptible to the initiating effects of carcinogens.

“The longer the time span between puberty and first birth, the longer the relatively undifferentiated cells are much less susceptible to the initiating effects of environmental carcinogens; hence, the well-established increased risk due to delaying childbirth by any means (including abortion).

“But abortion does not simply delay childbirth; rather, it allows the estrogen surge of early pregnancy to promote the rapid proliferation of breast tissue cells and abnormal cells, but cuts off the influence of late pregnancy hormones that induce full differentiation.  The net result [from late pregnancy hormones, which abortion cancels] is increased tumor protection of whatever abnormal cells may have formed earlier.

“After a woman has already had a full-term pregnancy, her more mature breasts are much less susceptible to carcinogenic influences, hence the much lower risk-enhancing effect of an aborted second pregnancy.  Multiple events do add up, however.  Thus, multiple births have been found to decrease overall risk, while multiple abortions, even after a live birth, tend to increase risk,” Dr. Brind adds.

Research to date has tended to focus on isolating a genetic component to the disease, in order to develop a successful early treatment for women at higher risk through a family history of breast cancer.  Environmental factors, from radiation to food additives and prescription drugs have also been researched.

Greenpeace, an environmental group, estimates that breast cancer rates have doubled in the past 30 years, and links the increase to contamination of the global environment with industrial synthetic chemicals.  But Dr. Brind, for one, draws a closer link to the greater use of contraception, as well as increased abortion, as a major reason for the increase.

Dr. Brind charges that the evidence of the link between abortion and breast cancer is already there, and continues to be ignored by activists with another agenda.

“The evidence,” he says, “has been kept out of the public eye by a medical establishment, which, possessed by the idea that the single most fundamental and urgent problem in the world today is that there are too many people in it, has been willing to sacrifice its own clients and its own ethical principles on the altar of population choice.”

Last December, Health Minister Benoit Bouchard announced that the federal government was putting $25 million into breast cancer research, following intensive lobbying by women’s health groups.  It may need much work on the part of the pro-life movement, however, to persuade the researchers to pay attention to existing studies showing the link between breast cancer and abortion, and to set up further studies in this area.