Oh, Hush!

By Rev. Kate Braesutrup

In what my husband, at least, regards as a masochistic quest to understand the phenomenon of abortion in America, I’ve been watching films and reading books. Most recently, I watched a documentary,  entitled Hush. (Available on Amazon Prime!)  In it, a pro-choice director, Punam Kumar Gill, investigates the question of whether the health effects of abortion on the women who have them are being generally, even systematically, distorted or concealed.

The short answer, it seems, is yes. She makes it clear, for instance,  that the supposedly debunked link between abortion and breast cancer hasn’t been debunked at all. And there are excellent reasons to believe that abortion rates explain why our neonatal intensive care units are chock-full of wanted infants delivered too soon, and why the fact that African-American women are over-represented among abortion patients may explain why they are also disproportionately prone to breast cancer and preterm delivery.  There are also (duh) clear links between abortion and increased vulnerability to mental illness in women. Why, Ms. Gill asks, aren’t women warned about these risks?

Gynecological chair in gynecological room
Gynecological chair in exam room.

It can’t be just that the data is inconclusive. There are many dangers that are unproven — mere correlation, not proven causality! Yet we are given urgent warnings,  told we must make adjustments or even significant sacrifices to protect ourselves from even remote risks. Don’t use plastic in the microwave! Discard your kitchen sponge! Coat your entire body with SPF 50 every day! And, of course, don’t smoke or drink, and for God’s sake, lose some weight and take a walk!

As Gill, to her credit, repeatedly makes clear, “choice” is meaningless unless it is a truly informed choice. If breast cancer, premature delivery or clinical depression are part of a woman’s family medical history, for example, the possibility that abortion would increase those risks could  tip the balance in favor of her choosing to continue the pregnancy, for her own sake (if not for the sake of the baby). Given what the data shows, even if it cannot be called “settled science,” wouldn’t any responsible doctor want to take a medical history that reveals these risk factors, and introduce them into the cost-benefit analysis that pre-abortion counseling of a panicked (though of course, still “trustworthy”) pregnant woman presumably entails?

And surely if the aim of a truly comprehensive sex education program is to empower young people to make good, healthy decisions about their bodies and lives, the curriculum should include information about these risks, even if they aren’t proven 100 percent? My beloved denomination will happily frighten its youth into believing that a January thaw or the sight of a deer in the backyard are  harbingers of environmental doom. Shouldn’t we be willing to say “oh, and by the way … it is possible that having an abortion increases your risk of breast cancer,  premature birth and depression?”

Gill is an honest storyteller, and she really does go where the facts lead her. That’s impressive. To her great credit, she takes the concerns of pro-life doctors and researchers seriously, and documents exactly how strenuously the scientific establishment protects abortion from inconvenient truths. She does not spend as much time as she might on the question of why this is happening.

She primarily ascribes it to the anxiety pro-choice advocates and abortion providers feel over the imminent threat pro-lifers pose to a woman’s right to choose.

And indeed, “protecting choice from those religious nutters” is probably the motivation when it comes to physicians, journalists, public health advocates, state regulators and other groups that are not directly concerned with abortion yet nonetheless help to maintain the manifold deceptions that the abortion industry demands — e.g., parroting the line that late-term abortion is rare and only used when the mother’s life or health is endangered or the baby is catastrophically deformed.

Because everyone would prefer to believe this to be the case, Americans, in general, go along with it too. Invited not to think too much about the grubby details, we … don’t. Then we stick pink ribbons on our bumpers,  join in those “Awareness” 5k fun runs, and vaguely declare racism to be the cause of breast cancer mortality and infant morbidity among African-Americans.

Hush provides strong evidence that the culture of defensive deception around abortion is putting the lives of women (as well as babies) in jeopardy.

Copyright 2018 © Kate Braestrup


  1. “And indeed, “protecting choice from those religious nutters” is probably the motivation….”
    Chaplain Kate, I agree with you on this. It occurs to me that a significant part of the pro-choice movement is definitely motivated by a sense of ‘sticking it to those Christians.’ It is hard to get past that sort of motivation through any logical appeal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a lot of stereotypes about both Christians and conservatives that don’t get tested, in part because Christians and conservatives don’t go around loudly announcing what they are. So the nice guy who stopped and helped you change your tire in the pouring rain, and let you sit in his car and stay warm while he did it…probably doesn’t announce “I’m a Christian and a conservative Republican.” If you go to give blood, you don’t really think about whether the other people who are lined up and waiting to donate that day are Christians or conservatives (statistically speaking, both groups give blood as well as money more generously than progressives). And of course, when progressives think of Christians and conservatives, they usually think of a white man—though African Americans are far more religious (mostly Christian) on average than other ethnic groups, and men are more likely to support abortion rights than women.

    There is the issue of abortion itself, which is (obviously) important. And there is the issue of what can and cannot be talked about, and who is and is not permitted to be part of the conversation, which is extremely important.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kate’s comment reminds me of an incident involving another issue — guns in church. After one of the recent shootings, a local TV news crew interviewed two ministers. One (I believe Baptist) thought that guns in church might help protect his parishioners. A UU minister made the argument against, although he said he could in some circumstances see the good of having armed security on hand. I thought they each made their case well, and I happened to mention to the wife of the UU that I thought her husband did well. She reacted with anger at the news program for its choice of the minister to take the other side.

    I left race out of the paragraph above on purpose. The UU minister is white and in a high-end suburban community. The other minister is black in a more rural and less wealthy area. The UU minister’s wife was furious because the local TV station had violated her pre-conceptions for who should be allowed to represent what point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Incidentally, the “only police officers/armed guards should have guns” argument is a smidge ironic in itself. Surely a Unitarian Universalist church would be much safer for everyone if the armed persons on site were woke anti-racist, feminist, Islamo- Trans and homophilic progressives rather than white supremacist-by-definition-police-officers or jumped up rent-a-cops?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chaplain Kate, thanks for posting on abortion. As a Christian, I just don’t see how anyone coming at the issue of abortion from the point of view of the spiritual dimension could conclude otherwise than that the Creator is pro-life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This essay is a good example of the unfortunate consequences of the generally low level of scientific understanding demonstrated by partisans on all sides of the abortion debate.

    The American Cancer Society has on its website what I would consider a balanced view of the subject of breast cancer and abortion, with a discussion of the methodologies and pros and cons of several major international studies. That can be found here: Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/medical-treatments/abortion-and-breast-cancer-risk.html

    The ACS article explains some differences and possible biases resulting from how the studies were conducted. In particular, they point out that when prospective and retrospective studies conflict, scientific experts generally accept the results of the prospective studies over the retrospective studies.

    So, what were the studies that this film chooses to highlight? What were the conclusions? What are the nature of the disagreements in the conclusions and how might we think about those disagreements in ways that don’t disparage people who disagree or impugn their motives for disagreeing?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Did you watch the film? I’ll be interested in your take on it. Remember, the film’s director expected to be persuaded that the breast-cancer link was completely disproven.

    Incidentally, the link between premature births (with attendant risks and hardships) and abortion appears to be pretty rock-solid.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Also: If a pro-life researcher does research or otherwise offers a science-based view, we are meant to discount it since, of course, pro-life is irrational. During the trial of the notorious abortion doctor/murderer Kermit Gosnell, pro-life jurors were excluded from the jury on the assumption that they would be unable to be impartial.

    Missing, here, is any skepticism regarding the impartiality of someone who is pro-choice (as, incidentally, I am).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Since federal case law establishes a right to abortion, and laws in Pennsylvania (where Dr. Gosnell was tried) reflect that right, why is it remarkable that opposition to the law would be cause for dismissal of a potential juror? And, by the way, Dr. Gosnell and I were friends when we were in our 20’s in the 1060’s (although I’ve had no contact with him since), so I read the indictment and followed the case closely. In the decades since I knew him, he had turned clearly into a murderer, and the jurors (even without pro-lifers) came to the only conclusion it could. The man was guilty of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His case could be an example of how liberal abortion laws can eventually lead a misguided doctor to become a murderer, but his case was not really about abortion.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. In a situation in which a law is hotly contested, and people on both sides feel the need to march and demonstrate and lobby and so on, I’d say that either position could in theory be cause to question whether a juror was capable of unbiased judgement. While it is true that the Gosnell case was’t technically about abortion, the distinction was somewhat difficult to keep clear throughout the trial, given that the infants Gosnell murdered had been “fetuses” and fair game mere moments before. And that uncomfortable question did arise, more than once: Why was Gosnell being prosecuted for killing babies their own mothers wanted dead? He was an abortion provider. What does an abortion provider “provide” and get paid for if not the death of the fetus?

    Members of the prosecution team and the jury who counted themselves pro-choice at the start of the case admitted afterward that exposure to the reality of abortion made them re-think their positions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s my point. The jury did not include any pro-lifers and came to the only conclusion it could. And in a state where marijuana use is illegal, wouldn’t be reasonable to exclude from the jury those who believe that marijuana should be OK?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The jury was fine, don’t get me wrong. I’m not critiquing the trial, just pointing out that “we” (by which I mean pro-choice/liberal/UUs) presume that a pro-choice person is going to be “neutral” while a pro-life person is, by definition, a blind fanatic. In my experience, at least, pro-choice people are at least as fiercely determined not to have their minds changed as pro-life people. Perhaps more so, given that ours is a less naturally defensible position.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Incidentally, one indication that the link between breast cancer and abortion is much stronger and more broadly known than we are led to believe is that scientists worldwide (including in the US) control for a history of abortion when conducting case-controlled studies of other risk factors for breast cancer (e.g. oral contraceptives) for fear of distorting the results. (see the book Complications: Abortions Impact on Women by LaFranchi, Gentles and Ring-Cassidy for much more on the subject).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Out of 73 published worldwide studies done to date, 56 show a positive association, of which 35 are statistically significant, while a total of 17 studies show no link.”

    Again, I’m not really claiming that abortion causes breast cancer. I’m pointing out that abortion is yet another subject about which free and open discussion is actively discouraged. We could compare this with, say, homeopathy or Reiki or even vaccination, all healthcare topics about which good UUs have been known to disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

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