Baby Head Shrinking Virus Could Change Abortion Laws

JP Carroll | National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter

The increasingly widespread Zika virus that is ravaging the Western Hemisphere could change abortion laws in several Latin American countries where abortion is illegal, according to Wired.

The Zika virus is spread by infected mosquitoes and causes a variety of different symptoms or sometimes no symptoms at all. Among the visible symptoms are fever, headache, nausea and joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the most extreme effects is microcephaly which causes brain and skull growth abnormalities in newborns.

Microcephaly can lead to either death or permanent disabilities in the newborns affected. So far, the consequences of the illness have been deadly in Latin America and the reactions of several governments in the region have been swift and arguably extreme.

In El Salvador, the government has officially stated it recommends women avoid pregnancy until 2018, according to Spanish daily El Pais. While the Brazilian Army has deployed over 200,000 troops specifically to fight the disease by informing as many women as possible of the virus, according to The Daily Mail.

Zika virus is difficult to diagnose, especially in the case of pregnant woman and their unborn children, according to Wired. It was reported the it can even be sexually transmitted according to evidence from a 2011 study in the journal Emerging Infections Diseases.

A representative for Ipas, a Brazilian reproductive rights non-governmental organization, told Wired that avoiding pregnancy is “not realistic.” The number of diagnosed Zika cases has gone up “twenty fold” according to the report.

Currently, abortion is banned in several South American countries, and it is plausible that there will be an increase in illegal abortions as long as there is no effective treatment or cure in sight for pregnant women. As things stand, abortion is “punishable by up to three years in prison” in Brazil, Wired reported.

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