Today, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that an anti-choice protestor had no right to use a false advertising law to harass the state’s sole abortion clinic. The decision maintains a lower court ruling that recognized there is no established link between abortion and breast cancer.
“As a result of today’s ruling, anti-abortion activists will no longer be able to use North Dakota’s false advertising law to harass abortion providers,” said Linda Rosenthal, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel for the defendants. “Anti-abortion extremists should think twice before suing abortion providers over frivolous claims, such as the debunked abortion-breast cancer link.“
After a three-day trial in March 2002, a judge ruled that the clinic’s brochures, which state that there is no established link between abortion and breast cancer, were truthful and not misleading. The plaintiff, Amy Jo Kjolsrud (née Mattson), appealed the lower court’s decision to the North Dakota Supreme Court. In today’s ruling the Supreme Court held that the plaintiff, whose only connection to the clinic was as a protestor, had no standing to sue the Red River Women’s Clinic under North Dakota’s consumer protection law.
The lower court had also awarded the Red River Women’s Clinic more than $30,000 to reimburse it for the costs of defending against the lawsuit. The plaintiff is liable for these costs.
Efforts to falsely link abortion and breast cancer have been part of a campaign by anti-choice activists to frighten women away from choosing abortion. The consensus of the scientific community is that induced abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer. The largest and most reliable study in this field examined data on millions of women born in Denmark over several decades and determined conclusively that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer.
And as recently as February, the National Cancer Institute convened approximately one hundred leading scientists and advocates in the field of breast cancer research to review the body of evidence on the alleged abortion and breast cancer link. The group stated unequivocally that induced and spontaneous abortions do not lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. The experts declared that their conclusion was “well established” by scientific evidence, thus issuing the strongest statement allowed by the Institute.