Zika Virus Reignites Abortion Debate in Brazil

Rondoniadinamica.com reported the effects of Zika virus with regards to Brazil’s rigid anti-abortion laws. Zooming in on the Atlantic coastal city Recife, the hardest hit region in the country, the source examined situations women can expect to face now that the abortion debate has re-surfaced.

Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly in newborn babies, a condition that inhibits brain development. More than 400 cases of microcephaly have been confirmed since the virus’s detection in April, and one third of those cases were in the Recife area.

Brazilian law currently prohibits abortion except when the life of the mother or baby is at risk and in cases of rape. An important detail to remember about microcephaly is that it does not kill the baby or mother, so legalizing abortion may prove difficult. Eduardo Cunha, Brazil’s President of Chamber of Deputies, proposed increased restrictions on abortion, sparking protests in 2015. A large portion of Brazilians, however, embraces the country’s conservative stance on abortion. In fact, depending on the poll, between 72% and 82% of the population opposes any changes to the present law. Poorer demographics, where Zika is most common, tend to be pro-life. Vadson Hollanda, coordinator of the Ministry of Health of Recife’s catholic church, said there is no chance of the church budging on its opposition to abortion because of Zika virus.

Still, it is worth noting that many of Brazil’s abortion laws go unheeded. Despite a maximum sentence of three years for women who undergo abortions illegally and ten years for doctors who perform them, it is estimated that 850 thousand Brazilian women get abortions in violation of the law each year. As for now, Brazilians are still awaiting an affordable test to accurately diagnose fetuses with microcephaly. Read article.

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