TASMANIAN Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has disputed media reports that he drew a link between abortion and breast cancer.
Senator Abetz appeared on Channel Ten talk show The Project on Thursday night and was asked if he believed the "factually incorrect statement" that there was a link between abortions and breast cancer.
Senator Abetz said: "I think the studies, and I think they date back from the 1950s, assert that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer".
The journalist disputed Senator Abetz's comment, citing the Australian Medical Association, and he replied that there were "other organisations that had differing views".
Senator Abetz has since been slammed for the comments by the AMA, political opponents and women's health advocates.
"If he's quoting papers from the 1950s, I suspect that's where he's living," AMA president Brian Owler told Fairfax Media.
Senator Abetz is involved with this year's World Congress of Families, a pro-family group event to be held in Melbourne this month.
One guest speaker is Dr Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon from the US who believes in a link between abortion and cancer.
Health advocate Dr Sally Cockburn said Senator Abetz should be made to read out a statement at the conference explaining that the Australian position is that there was no link.
"When it comes to health we can't tolerate that. It is not appropriate for a member of our government to imply there is a link," Dr Cockburn said.
"If he is going to this conference as a representative of Tasmania and the government he should read out a statement of facts," she said.
Senator Abetz said he supported the broad aims of the Families Conference, but it did not mean he endorsed the views of every speaker.
"She [Dr Lanfranchi] has spoken at hospitals and universities around the world and she has the right to free speech in Australia," Senator Abetz said.
He said he was "cut off before being able to acknowledge that Dr Lanfranchi's views on this topic were not the accepted medical view" when he appeared on The Project.
State Labor health spokeswoman Rebecca White said she was not convinced Senator Abetz was misquoted.
"What Senator Abetz needs to do is front up and categorically discredit this warped idea that terminations can cause cancer," Ms White said.