Debate Continues Over Contraception, Abortion Access For Women In Latin American Zika-Affected Nations

Associated Press: U.S. ships Zika test for pregnant women; Puerto Rico at risk
“The U.S. government is shipping Zika virus tests for pregnant women to health departments around the country, but it warns there could be temporary shortages, as travelers try to tell if they returned with an infection that could put a developing baby at risk. Health officials don’t expect widespread transmission of the mosquito-borne virus in the continental United States, but they said Thursday that Puerto Rico is especially vulnerable…” (Neergaard, 2/11).

The Guardian: ‘Zika-linked’ miscarriages pose jail risk for women in El Salvador, activists say
“Women’s rights activists fear that a suspected rise in miscarriages linked to the Zika epidemic could lead to a surge in criminal prosecutions of women for deliberate abortion or homicide under El Salvador’s draconian abortion law…” (Lakhani, 2/12).

The Guardian: El Salvador’s Zika crisis compounded by failings of state, violence, and machismo
“…[I]n El Salvador the challenge [of Zika] is exacerbated by tottering public institutions, high rates of sexual violence, inadequate sex education and a backdrop of violence and gang warfare which are undermining efforts to control the outbreak. … But women’s rights activists said that the controversial advice [for women to delay pregnancy for two years] failed to reflect the country’s entrenched culture of sexism which leaves many women — especially poor women — with little control over their bodies…” (Lakhani, 2/12).

International Business Times: South American pregnant women battle health and inequality issues with Zika virus outbreak
“…Human rights organizations around the world find the call to avoid getting pregnant an unfair solution to avoid passing on the infection to unborn children. … ‘Naïve’ and ‘irresponsible,’ as women’s rights activist and programs specialist for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Paula Avila-Guillen, called the recommendation…” (Hernandez, 2/12).

NPR: Chart: Access To Contraception And Abortion In Zika-Affected Countries
“…One thing is certain: The outbreak has sparked a public debate about issues of contraception and abortion. … [A Kaiser Family Foundation] chart uses data from the U.N. Population Division, which relies on surveys from the various countries. Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, notes that the contraception statistic may ‘mask what are large disparities between rural and urban areas and across different income classes. Poor rural women have the least access to contraception’…” (Silver, 2/11).

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