Eric Abetz's abortion-cancer link backflip
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz suggests abortion leads to breast cancer in an interview on Ten's The Project but later denies drawing any link.PT2M9S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3dc6g 620 349 August 8, 2014
Senior government minister Eric Abetz has drawn a link between abortion and breast cancer in a television interview.
Senator Abetz, the leader of the government in the upper house and the Employment Minister, made the comments on Channel Ten program The Project on Thursday night when asked if he believed the "factually incorrect" statement that abortion leads to breast cancer.
"I think the studies, and I think they date back from the 1950s, assert that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer," he said.
Senator Eric Abetz says studies have drawn a link between abortion and breast cancer. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
When his comments were questioned, Senator Abetz said: "There are other organisations [other than the Australian Medical Association] that have differing views."
The Australian Medical Association said the comments were irresponsible.
"If he's quoting papers from the 1950s, I suspect that's where he's living," the AMA president, Associate Professor Brian Owler, said.
Australian Medical Association president, Associate Professor Brian Owler says the comments are irresponsible, Photo: Andrew Meares
"I think it's really irresponsible for people to be using their own ideology and projecting it on, particularly, women."
Labor MP Alannah Mactiernan says Senator Abetz's comments betray the ''monoculture'' within the federal cabinet, which has only one woman, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
"I think they've got a cultural problem in their party in that they think it’s acceptable to have just one woman in the cabinet," she told Fairfax Media.
She said the cabinet's make-up is ''not really reflective of the community'' and said it explained some of government's ''poor'' decisions such as the now abandoned attempt to change the Racial Discrimination Act.
The abortion-breast cancer theory has been rejected by Cancer Australia, the World Health Organisation, the US National Cancer Institute, Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and health authorities in Victoria and NSW.
Senator Abetz, who is openly anti-abortion, is involved with this year's "World Congress of Families" event to be held in Melbourne this month. One of the topics to be discussed is abortion and breast cancer.
Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who is an ambassador for the US-based anti-homosexuality "congress", will open and close the event.
When asked if he thought there was a link between abortion and breast cancer, a spokeswoman for Mr Andrews said he did not want to comment.
She said that Mr Andrews was appearing because it was a discussion about families and this related to his portfolio.
"The choice of speakers is a matter for the conference's organisation and doesn't necessarily mean that he supports those speakers," she said.
The conference will also be attended by a number of Victorian Liberals, including state Attorney-General Robert Clark and anti-abortion campaigner and Victorian upper house MP Bernie Finn.
In July, women's health advocates said pro-life campaigners who were expected to attend the event, including well-known American Angela Lanfranchi, were entitled to their views but called on members of government not to endorse flawed medical theories through their presence at the families' congress.
Dr Lanfranchi has claimed women who take the pill choose partners who share a similar genetic profile, causing them to lose interest in sex and become more likely to be the victims of violent assault and murder.
She also pushes the debunked link between abortion and breast cancer.
On Friday morning, Senator Abetz said in a statement: "Media reports that I have drawn or believe there is a link between abortion and breast cancer are incorrect."
He said he was cut off before being able to acknowledge that the view linking abortion with breast cancer was not the accepted medical view.