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Surgeon gives presentation on risk of abortion

January 11, 2018

PEAPACK – Dr. Angela Lanfranchi is undaunted in her mission to increase awareness of the link between induced abortion and breast cancer, despite obstacles that prevent women from hearing the message, including societal pressures, powerful pro-choice advocacy and suppression of information by the scientific community.

On Oct. 23, she spoke at St. Elizabeth-St. Brigid Parish’s St. Patrick Hall to an audience that included more than 75 parishioners and guests along with Msgr. Edward C. Puleo, pastor, and Father John G. Hillier, who is in residence. Her remarks followed a condensed version of “HUSH,” a 2016 documentary on women’s breast and reproductive health that included participation from Lanfranchi. 

Lanfranchi, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Whitehouse Station, is a breast cancer surgeon who co-founded the nonprofit Breast Cancer Prevention Institute [BCPI] in 1999. As a surgeon, she had seen the incidence of breast cancer increasing in young women and wanted to see this trend reversed. This eventually led her to two other BCPI principals, Dr. John Bruchalski, an obstetrician-gynecologist, and Dr. William Toffler, a family practice physician. They shared mutual concerns over the abortion-breast cancer, or ABC link, and the lack of information available to women. The goal of BCPI is to educate healthcare professionals and the general public through research publications, lectures, and the internet, on ways to reduce breast cancer incidence.

Lanfranchi, a former diocesan Pro-Vita Award winner who has traveled the globe speaking on breast cancer prevention, presented a clear message: women are being denied information on the long-term health consequences of induced abortion. She provides facts, and references research that she believes validates the ABC link, and that also shows increased post-abortion risks for conditions such as depression and miscarriages. She emphasized that BCPI’s intent is “not to tell women what they should do, but to make sure they have the information they need in making these personal choices.” 

The debate over the ABC link has divided scientific and healthcare communities, and has received much media coverage. In her remarks, Lafranchi refers to a New York Times article on ABC link proponent Charmaine Yoest, recently appointed by President Trump as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. 

During a spirited question and answer session, audience members asked Lafranchi how they can help the cause. She responded, “Grassroots level communication and awareness is important,” as well as supporting bills and legislation that “will tell people the truth.”

For example, patients should receive thorough consent information that provides all the relevant risks of procedures such as abortion. She also encouraged reading and sharing with others information resources, many of which were provided to the audience in handouts and pamphlets. 

After the event, Genevieve Virgilio, a member of St. Elizabeth-St. Brigid Parish said, “This has been an eye-opener for me. We have to spread awareness as much as we can.”  

Ann Ryan, a member of St. Vincent Parish, Sterling, also expressed concern. “I haven’t seen any of this before. It’s very distressing that the medical establishment pushes these facts under the rug. I agree that we need to create a grassroots effort.” 

Added Bunny Brinck-Land, also of St. Elizabeth-St. Brigid Parish, “They should teach this in the schools. Young women need this information.”

Bonnie Mahala, a member of the parish Respect for Life ministry, expressed her appreciation for Msgr. Puleo’s support of the event.

“There are so many women who are truly suffering physical and emotional wounds from abortion,” she said. “In pro-life circles, we often focus on the baby who has no voice. But tonight, we focused on the woman, with the message that there are real, long-term health effects from this choice. I honestly believe this film should be mandatory viewing in every high school health class across America.”

Extensive Research

“HUSH” was produced by independent filmmaker Punam Kumar Gill and has received several awards, including Best Documentary at the La Femme International and the Life Fest Film Festivals.

According to the film’s website, what made the investigation consistently difficult is “the only people willing to speak to the subject came from extremes of the political spectrum. Any truly neutral scientists, doctors, psychologists and researchers who had looked at the subject chose to zip their mouths, ignored our calls, or deferred to others. So we determined we would have to hear everyone out, no matter their political leanings, with an open mind, and a healthy amount of skepticism.

“We aren’t scientists. And we don’t claim to be. But the research involved in the making of this film was extensive.”

Research lasted for one year and filming was done in the United States, Canada, England and India.

Women’s Health Facts  

• In 1970, breast cancer occurred in 1 out of 12 women.

• In the 1990’s, that number increased to 1 in 7 women.

• Breast cancer is the only major cancer that is on the rise.

• In 1973, abortion was legalized in this country. Since then, invasive breast cancer has increased by 40 percent and non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer by 400 percent.from BCPI ABC online brochure


• Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.

• ‘HUSH: A liberating conversation about abortion and women’s health’ resources and screening materials.

By Cathy Stevens, Correspondent at The Catholic Spirit


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