Energy

Planned Parenthood Steps In To Help Miami Abort Its Way Through Zika

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Planned Parenthood told National Public Radio (NPR) Friday it wants to help Miami abort Zika out of existence.

Planned Parenthood (PP) canvassers are going door to door in Miami warning people about the risks of Zika and treatment options. They are hoping to contact 25,000 people in the Miami areas over the next six weeks. The group has previously stated that the solution to Zika is increased abortion access and availability.

“This is a natural extension of the work we do with reproductive health care and sexually-transmitted infections,” Dr. Christopher Estes, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer, told National Public Radio. “It just made sense. And this is a time of a public health crisis. When you have something like this going on, it’s, ‘All hands on deck.’ ”

Pro-choice groups, like PP and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), have capitalized on the spread of Zika virus by calling for more abortions. Abortion is generally illegal in Brazil and other areas where the Zika virus is spreading rapidly.

Zika virus infections in pregnant women are directly linked to fetal deaths and microcephaly, when a baby is born with an abnormally small head, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some children born with microcephaly will be able to live productive lives and the infants most affected tend not to survive long. Other laboratory studies confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the blood, tissue, brains and amniotic fluid of fetuses and babies diagnosed with microcephaly.

Florida is the first U.S. state to report locally transmitted Zika cases. Federal and state health officials have already directed pregnant women to avoid parts of Miami where Zika transmissions have been reported, and they are distributing kits to test for the virus to pregnant women in Florida. Officials say that 479 Floridians are currently infected with Zika, 63 of whom are pregnant women.

State and federal health officials have issued a travel notice, warning pregnant women to stay away from certain areas of downtown Miami after Florida officials announced 10 more people had contracted Zika virus from local mosquitoes.

New research published this week scanned babies’ brains to determine how the virus affected them. They found that Zika does far more damage to an infant’s brain than previously believed, targeting the parts of the brain that facilitate communication between the two hemispheres.

Most of the babies in the study had less visible, but no less serious, damage in the part of the brain that controls learning, memory and coordination. This suggests that Zika-infected babies who don’t have obvious initial symptoms may develop problems as they grow.

Zika creates clumps of calcium around blood vessels in the infant’s brain, which prevents parts of the brain from forming normally, and physically blocks or destroys connections to other areas of the brain. The virus tends to target the cerebellum and the basal ganglia, inhibiting movement, balance, speech and emotion.

There are currently 2,517 cases of Zika virus confirmed in the continental U.S., as well as another  9,011 in American territories, according to the CDC’s most recent update, published Wednesday. The domestic American cases include 22 believed to be the result of sexual transmission, one that was the result of laboratory exposure, plus 29 new cases from local mosquitoes in the Miami area. The vast majority of the cases were from people who traveled to a Zika-prone country, such as Brazil.

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