Bill Removes Inaccurate Information in WRTK Brochure

TMA Testimony

House Bill 2945 by Rep. Sarah Davis
April 10, 2013

Chair Cook and members of the committee, the Texas Medical Association (TMA), representing more than 47,000 physician members and medical students, commends Rep. Sarah Davis for sponsoring House Bill 2945 to remove the requirement that women be informed about an association between abortion and a risk of breast cancer as part of the consent process.  

In 2003, TMA expressed its great concern about the requirement to include information on an association between breast cancer and abortion in the state-mandated Woman’s Right to Know booklet. At the time, we understood a comprehensive scientific review by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) was underway to consider the evidence on this topic. In early 2003, NCI definitively concluded there was no link between abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer. Ten years later, with even more ongoing research and rigorous reviews of the scientific evidence, there is still no nationally recognized academic, research, or medical organization that has identified an increased risk for breast cancer following an abortion.

Currently, more than two dozen states prescribe counseling content a woman seeking an abortion must have before giving informed consent. Of these, Texas is the only state with a booklet that includes inconclusive and certainly unclear statements on an association between abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer:

While there are studies that have found an increased risk of developing breast cancer after an induced abortion, some studies have found no overall risk. There is agreement that this issue needs further study. (DSHS, WRTK, page 17)

This year Texas physicians will tell more than 16,000 women, they have breast cancer — the most common cancer diagnosed among women. And while breast cancer screening and early treatment are helping reduce the number of deaths from this cancer, still more than 2,900 Texas women will die this year from breast cancer.

Texas has been a leader in fighting breast cancer. In 1991, Texas was one of the first states in the United States that implemented a statewide breast and cervical cancer screening program for uninsured women. The Texas Legislature was also one of the first to authorize Medicaid coverage to pay for the lifesaving treatment of women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. Clearly, Texas legislators are concerned about supporting effective measures to stop breast cancer. This should not include providing false information to young women on their risk for breast cancer — particularly at a time when they need clear and factual information to aid them in making an important health decision.

TMA does not take a position on access to an abortion. TMA has members on both sides of this issue, and therefore is not advocating for or against abortion. However, we all stand firmly on the principle that informed consent for a medical procedure requires that each patient have access to medically accurate and relevant information at the right time. We will continue to promote and support accuracy of the state’s Woman’s Right to Know booklet and we urge your support by favorably considering HB 2945.   

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