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Breast Cancer Not Linked to Abortion, Study Says

There is no connection between abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer, scientists reported Monday in a large study.

There has been considerable debate about whether abortion, induced or spontaneous, is linked to breast cancer — a debate that may intensify with last week's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, which suggested that an abortion procedure could be banned if it posed a risk to a woman's health.

The possibility of such a link has been suggested by some retrospective studies — that is, studies that looked for a history of abortion in women who had already been diagnosed with breast cancer.

But such studies are subject to error caused by inaccurate reporting. Because of personal sensitivities and the stigma associated with the operation, healthy women may be reluctant to reveal that they have had an abortion, while those with breast cancer, seeking a cause for their illness, are more likely to report one.

This study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked women prospectively to see if those who reported having abortions were more likely to develop breast cancer in the future. They were not.

Loyalties Strain as '08 Rivals Court New York's Black Leaders

Only four months ago, the vast majority of black elected officials in New York were expected to support the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. But no longer.

In a series of interviews, a significant number of those officials now say they are undecided about whether to back Clinton or one of her main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the only black politician in the race.

The officials described themselves as impressed with the strength of Obama's campaign in recent weeks, saying it reflected a grass-roots enthusiasm for Obama that they noticed among black voters in their own districts. And that could signal trouble for Clinton, forcing her to devote precious attention to her home state, where blacks made up 20 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2004, just as she has had to scramble to keep black support nationwide.

Palestinian Tries to Step Down as Interior Chief

The Palestinian interior minister, Hani al-Qawasmi, submitted his resignation on Monday, five weeks after a unity government was sworn in, but was persuaded to stay on by the prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, Palestinian officials said.

Qawasmi, a political independent, recently presented a security plan for restoring order in the increasingly anarchic Palestinian territories. His attempted resignation appeared to reflect his own doubts about his chances of success, as well as continuing rivalry within the Palestinian leadership over control of the security services.

"He believes that some of the heads of the security services are not playing fairly with him, and that he was therefore heading for failure," said Radwan Abu Ayyash, a veteran Fatah official and deputy minister of culture, in a telephone interview from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Interior Ministry is a particularly delicate post because it is supposed to oversee most of the Palestinian Authority security services, which are largely made up of Fatah loyalists. Hamas has so far rejected demands to disband its own security organization, known as the Executive Force, or fold it into the other security services.