Zika Virus Leads To Abortion Controversy In Brazil

With the Zika outbreak in full force, pregnant Brazilians are panicked about the mosquito-borne virus that is causing brain damage in newborns.

First seen in the coastal city of Recife, women are not near as joyful as they were before the virus struck. After all, there’s no cure or vaccine for the disease. And, in most cases, there are no notable symptoms, which means pregnant women don’t know if they have it.

Virus test kits are effective in just the first week of infection and can only be given at private clinics with a cost of 900 reais – a cost that exceeds the monthly minimum wage.

Many pregnant women have come to the Recife’s IMIP hospital to get an ultrasound scan that will determine if their unborn child has a damaged brain or shrunken head – known as microcephaly. Since August, the hospital has seen 160 babies born with the condition.

40-year-old Elisangela Barros said she’s scared that her daughter will have the condition. She said she lives in a poor neighborhood where there are a lot of mosquitos, no running water and trash. She said five of her neighbors have been diagnosed with Zika.

Women who are similar to Barros live in the muddy slums of Brazil’s hectic cities and don’t generally have a lot of defense against the Zika-carrying mosquito known as the Aedes aegypti mosquito. They also don’t have protection from yellow fever or dengue. They can’t pay for the insect repellent and don’t have access to family planning.

The thought of having babies with the birth defects has made many of them think before they get pregnant. Doctors are worried the outbreak is going to lead to a higher number of daring abortions in the mostly-Catholic country. According to Brazilian law, it’s illegal to terminate a pregnancy until the mother’s life is at risk or she was raped.

With the rapid increase in Zika to more than 20 countries in the Americas, health and government officials have advised women not to have children for a time. El Salvador has recommended women not to become pregnant for the next two years.

Debate about liberalizing the abortion laws has also taken hold, as many countries have stringent laws against it.

IMIP Hospital gynecologist Adriana Scavuzzi said fear about the Zika virus is growing among women because it’s something news and there are no answers or information yet.

In fact, public health experts claims the Zika virus will lead to a rise in women undergoing illegal abortions. It’s been estimated that one million are done each year in Brazil. A major reason for maternal deaths in illegal abortions is due to botched procedures, lack of sterilization and over-the-counter medications.

Rio de Janeiro health expert and pediatrician Daniel Becker said Zika is a major catastrophe that’s terrifying for all pregnant ladies. He said people are going to look to get an abortion.

A number of lawyers, activists and researchers are going to petition the Brazilian Supreme Court to allow pregnant women diagnosed with the virus get an abortion. This would circumvent the law already in place and by-pass the bill that would limit abortion even when there’s been a rape.

Debora Diniz, a law professor who’s leading the campaign, said it won’t be long that a generation of women who will be fated to take care of their fully-dependent children as their full-time job.

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Posted by on Feb 1 2016. Filed under Health, New. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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