At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, Dubuque County Right for Life held an event to watch a special screening of the documentary “Hush.” Only held at certain locations across the country, the viewing was hosted at Mindframe Theaters. Directed and produced by pro-choice Punam Kumar Gill, the documentary looks deeper into the possible connection between abortion and women’s health.
After hearing the connection between abortion and breast cancer addressed and shut down in the news, Gill decided to research the possibility of such a correlation. Despite her pro-choice political values, Gill believed it was a women’s health issue and wanted to be correctly informed one way or another. After interviewing both pro-choice and pro-life medical professionals, Gill made the documentary to show her findings.
Breast cancer is the leading death for women between ages 20 to 39, and it is has dramatically increased since the 1970s. Scientists can only trace 20 percent of breast cancer cases to genetics; the other 80 remains unknown. Driven to discover whether women are endangered by abortions, she proceeded to contact scientific organizations such as the National Cancer Institute. After being unable to interview people at many organizations, including the NCI, Gill looked into their websites. She found that each group referenced a conference held in 2003 by the NCI, which had ended the debate about breast cancer and abortion.
After watching the video from the conference, Gill was disturbed that only 20 minutes were devoted to this issue and any questions challenging the decision were vaguely answered or avoided. While the 2003 conference said the case was closed, Gill and others in the film realize that real scientists acknowledge there are always opportunities for further studies. Unsettled that a scientific group would take such a short amount of time to decide a magnanimous issue, ignoring the need for further investigation, Gill decided to do her own research.
In the process, Gill met with Angela Lanfranchi, MD, a breast cancer surgeon. She and other medical professionals explained in the documentary that the sudden drop in estrogen after an abortion disrupts the female body. Also, pregnancy is a natural protector against breast cancer, but this protection is not guaranteed until after 32 weeks. While looking at the studies arguing the faulty correlation between abortion and breast cancer, Gill looked past the interpretation and directly at the statistics. One Chinese study showed that, after the first abortion, the risk of breast cancer is 44 percent. With the second and third, it goes up to 76 and 89 percent.
Through her research, Gill uncovered that abortions are also linked to increasing premature rates. Since 1970, the number of premature births increased from 6.6 to 12.6 percent. In fact, over 11,000 babies die on the day they are born; and every year, half a million babies are born prematurely. As a mother who lost her premature son to preeclampsia, Gill understands the loss.
There is also correlation between abortion and women’s mental health. While many studies discredit this theory as well, Gill interviewed multiple women who struggled with guilt after their abortions. 21 to 28 percent of women admit feeling guilt about their abortion; that means that 210,000-280,000 women in the world have guilt over their abortion. Yet, there is not much support for women struggling after abortions. When a parent loses a child prematurely, they are offered counseling. But women who suffer mental health problems after abortions do not receive the same help.
“If women have the right to abortion, they also have the right to know,” Gill stated. “This is not about the morality of abortion. It is about the morality of not telling the truth. We need to stop talking about abortion as a strictly political, religious issue. It is a women’s issue for their health.”
“I thought it was really interesting to see how people are afraid to listen to facts because it goes against their ideas,” said Duhawks for Life secretary Caitlin Hansen. “And this is especially important for issues such as breast cancer, miscarriages and premature births.”
For more information about the film, visit Hushfilm.com, where viewers can watch a 20 minute summary of the documentary.