News Outlets Highlight Latin American Women’s Lack Of Access To Family Planning Services, Nations’ Abortion Policies Amid Zika Outbreak, Disease’s Association With Birth Defects

Associated Press: In face of Zika virus, women ponder abortion, childlessness
“…While Zika’s exact link to the rare birth defect known as microcephaly is still unclear, warnings from El Salvador, at least six other countries, and health officials across the Americas are raising anxiety for millions of would-be and could-be mothers in affected areas…” (Sherman/Aleman, 1/28).

The Guardian: Zika outbreak raises fears of rise in deaths from unsafe abortions
“Campaigners are calling on Latin American governments to rethink their policies on contraception and abortion because of the spread of Zika virus, which they fear will lead to a rise in women’s deaths from unsafe abortions as well as the predicted surge in brain-damaged babies…” (Boseley/Douglas, 1/29).

International Business Times: Zika virus: Activists petition Brazil’s Supreme court to waive law banning abortions for infected women
“A group of Brazilian lawyers, activists, and scientists are petitioning the nation’s Supreme Court to waive the law banning abortions for women who have contracted the Zika virus…” (Watkinson, 1/30).

NPR: Zika Virus Isn’t The First Disease To Spark A Debate About Abortion
“…Reproductive rights activists are outraged that the Salvadoran government would [recommend women not get pregnant until 2018] in a country where women have no legal options to terminate a pregnancy if they are concerned about birth defects. That’s because the law recognizes a fetus as a human being from the moment of conception…” (Garsd, 1/31).

TIME: Why Latin American Women Can’t Follow the Zika Advice to Avoid Pregnancy
“…In all of Central and South America, there are only three countries where abortion is broadly legal (those countries are Uruguay, Guyana, and French Guiana.) Everywhere else in the region, abortion is only allowed in cases of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is at risk, depending on the country. Only Mexico, Colombia, and Panama allow mothers to terminate pregnancies because of a fetal impairment…” (Alter, 1/28).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.