Cancer vs. abortion

In a conversation regarding the press coverage of March for Life, my cousin’s husband, let’s call him Nathan, made a comparison with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

In the conversation, I alleged that the press coverage for March for Life was lackluster at best because it is “same thing, same day, different year”. Let me explain this.

March for Life is held on the same day each year: January 22, the same day that Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The same thing happens each year as well: a couple hundred thousand people (impressive unto itself) gather in Washington, DC, because they are pissed the Supreme Court isn’t listening to them and overturning Roe. The first March for Life was held January 22, 1974, and it has been held every year since.

To that regard, since Nathan works for a pro-life organization, I said that he could come up with a way to “spice up” March for Life to see if it could garner more press attention.

In response Nathan alleged that Race for the Cure is also “same thing, same day, different year”. As I pointed out to him, this is far from the case.

First, it is not “same day, different year” as each venue that holds a Race tends to hold it on different days each year. Now if he said it was the same day of the week each year, then that would be true, arguably not for all races, but that’s not what was said.

March for Life is also a politically-charged, peaceful rally. Race for the Cure is a politically neutral fundraising effort.

Nathan seems to believe that abortion is a more important issue than cancer research. He agrees that society as a whole appears to see cancer research as a greater issue than abortion, then followed up by saying this is “due to societal ignorance and bias”. He even had numbers to back that up. As I would discover after responding to him, he had the wrong numbers.

First, he mistakenly said that 1.2 million abortions were performed in 2009. That figure is actually from 2005.1Guttmacher Institute. (July 2008). “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States“. As of the time of this writing, numbers on abortion in the United States for 2006 haven’t been compiled, let alone for 2009. His focus was purely on death as well, not incidence, stating that according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 562,340 individuals died as a result of cancer in 2009.2American Cancer Society. “Estimated Cancer Deaths for Selected Cancer Sites by State, US, 2009“.

Yes it is tragic when an infant’s life is taken before it even has a chance, assuming the infant even had a chance to begin with. But cancer still affects far more people than abortion.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1,382,758 incidents of cancer in the United States in 2005.3You can retrieve the numbers yourself from their WONDER system That is all cancers, among all age groups, with 934 cases of cancer in infants and 4,103 cases among all children through age 4. The American Cancer Society also estimates that there were approximately 1,479,350 new cases of cancer in 2009. 4American Cancer Society. “Estimated New Cancer Cases for Selected Cancer Sites by State, US, 2009

Further, the fact of a woman having an abortion is far easier to conceal from family and friends then the fact of a person having cancer. Statistically speaking, many of us know a woman, possibly even in your own family, who has had an abortion.

Certainly, the emotional scars of an abortion are very real. But unless the person who obtained the abortion tells you about the abortion, it is typically a secret that is easier to keep.

Cancer is quite different.

I’m sure those who have lost friends or family to cancer or have friends or family with cancer can agree that cancer’s impact extends well beyond the person with the cancer. I’m sure you can remember how you felt when you learned a friend, colleague, or loved one had cancer.

A former colleague of mine succumbed from a brain tumor at age 28, leaving behind a wife and a child, a newborn if I recall correctly.

It is a fallacy to compare abortion to cancer. But to suggest that abortion is more important than cancer research is just foolish.