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Calls For Women To Postpone Pregnancy During Zika Outbreak Complicate Latin American Nations’ Policies On Contraception, Abortion

New York Times: Growing Support Among Experts for Zika Advice to Delay Pregnancy
“Health officials in several countries stricken by the Zika virus have given their female citizens an unprecedented warning: ‘Don’t get pregnant.’ This startling advice has been greeted in many quarters with a mix of shock and derision. Medical historians said they had never heard the like. Advocates for women mocked it as unrealistic, disconnected from the difficult lives of women in a part of the world where contraception can be hard to obtain and abortion is often illegal. Yet a growing number of infectious disease experts say that delaying pregnancy could work — and may be the most effective way to break the back of this global epidemic…” (McNeil, 2/5).

U.S. News & World Report: Zika Posing a Crisis For Motherhood
“…Women in Brazil are facing maternity with new levels of anxiety. And as the Zika virus underscores the gulf here between rich and poor, a new debate is beginning to take shape on the country’s abortion laws, already among the strictest in Latin America. … Millions of women lack access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services; many also lack control over their fertility, due to a high rate of sexual violence, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released last week. ‘Introduce something like Zika into a community, and those least able to protect themselves are going to be disproportionately affected,’ says Jennifer Kates, Kaiser’s director of global health and HIV policy…” (Sternberg, 2/8).

U.S. News & World Report: Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal Under Most Circumstances
“The abortion debate has intensified in South and Central America as the Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects, spreads throughout the region. Latin America has the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, according to Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on U.S. and global health issues…” (Haynie, 2/8).

Washington Post: Zika prompts urgent debate about abortion in Latin America
“Across Latin America, calls to loosen some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world in the face of the Zika virus outbreak are gaining momentum but encountering strong and entrenched opposition. … Nearly everywhere in Latin America, including in those countries hit hardest by Zika, women who wish to terminate their pregnancies have few legal options. But as U.N. health officials have projected as many as 4 million infections in the Americas this year, activists are pressing lawmakers to act as swiftly as possible to ease rigid restrictions…” (Phillips et al., 2/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.